First coronavirus case may have emerged in early October 2019
When the coronavirus emerged has been somewhat muddled. (Stock, Getty Images)
The World Health Organization was informed about a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
According to new research, however, the coronavirus may have arisen more than two months earlier.
The infectious outbreak has long been linked to a live animal market in Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Many initially believed the infection "jumped" from an animal into a market worker. Some now wonder whether a coronavirus-positive customer visited the market, turning it into a "superspreading" event.
To better understand the pandemic's onset, scientists from the University of Kent repurposed a mathematical model, originally developed to determine when a species became extinct.
The Kent team reversed the model to uncover when the coronavirus emerged, based on the earliest known cases in more than 200 countries.
Results – published in the journal PLOS Pathogens – suggest the first coronavirus case likely occurred in China on 17 November 2019, but could have fallen anywhere between early October and mid-November.……
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