PROLOGUE: SARS-CoV-2 was spread throughout the world already since mid 2019. Especially in Africa this man-made contagion caused widespread sickness and death but went unobserved in most places, because in its first version the death rate was like in flu and accounted as it. But since February / March certain countries in Europe and the Middle East as well as South-Africa and now South-America suffer from a tweaked version that is much more deadly. The "2nd wave" affecting now also again China are caused by strains different from the first outbreak and not so much related to different response plans. The independent investigation and an International Tribunal on the whole pandemic is long overdue. 

Coronavirus likely spread in China last fall, more studies find

Finding origin requires cooperation and information from Chinese government

By HANA SLEVIN OHAMA - 22. 

TOKYO -- The new coronavirus likely began spreading in China last fall, according to separate analyses of its genome by research teams in the U.K. and elsewhere.

These analyses, which cover all genetic information of the virus, indicate ongoing person-to-person transmission before the first patient was confirmed in the Chinese city of Wuhan. But no clues confirm where the virus came from or how it came to be, leaving an even deeper mystery.

Though evidence suggests the coronavirus originally came from bats, it remains unclear whether the virus was transmitted directly to humans or reached people through another animal.

The first confirmed patient with pneumonia caused by the coronavirus was identified Dec. 8, according to the city of Wuhan. Chinese doctors reported to The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the U.K., that this patient began exhibiting symptoms Dec. 1. But many question whether this was really the first case.

Teams worldwide are analyzing the genome of the virus to discover when it jumped to humans, and information is being collected in an international database. Tracing the mutations of the virus might reveal when person-to-person transmission began.

Researchers at University College London estimate that infections among people began between Oct. 6 and Dec. 11, based on genetic information of the virus drawn from more than 7,500 patients in China, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. The team suggests the virus spread beyond China early on and eventually triggered the pandemic.

A separate team at the U.K.'s University of Cambridge estimates that infections spread to people between mid-September and early December, based on a study of genetic material from about 1,000 people.

The Cambridge research also suggests the virus may not have originated in Wuhan.

The common ancestor to the new coronavirus, which is close to a type found in bats, seems to have originated in China, said Peter Forster, a fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge. But this ancestor had been found more often outside of Wuhan, such as much farther south in Guangdong Province, until mid-January.

The search for when and where the outbreak started also has employed other types of analysis. Harvard University recently used satellite imagery to determine that the usage rate of parking lots at large hospitals in Wuhan increased significantly last August. Experts say that while this kind of analysis is inconclusive, the parking lot imagery could be related to COVID-19.

Reports also suggest the virus reached Europe and the U.S. and began spreading earlier than thought. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an early report that said the disease may have begun spreading in the country between late January and early February.

In France, a man in his 40s was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms in late December. When a sample from him was analyzed in April, doctors confirmed he had been infected with the coronavirus. However, there was no surge in patients suffering pneumonia with an unknown origin, so this case's connection to the pandemic is unclear.

China originally said the virus began in Wuhan street markets but later issued a retraction. Beijing also has denied claims by the U.S. President Donald Trump's administration that the virus escaped from a Wuhan research facility.

The World Health Organization says it is unclear whether the virus originated in Wuhan markets. It is considering whether to dispatch a research team to assist international efforts to trace the virus to its origin, but finding the source will require the cooperation of and information from the Chinese government.

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More Studies Find Coronavirus Spread In China Much Earlier Than Beijing Admits

A study suggesting the coronavirus might have been spreading across Lombardy as early as December, months before the first cases were detected in February, was only the latest in a steady stream of research from around the world finding traces of coronavirus infection and deaths weeks or months earlier than previously known.

And on Sunday, the Nikkei Asian Review added more to this growing body of evidence in a report entitled "Coronavirus likely spread in China last fall, more studies find". It follows that if the virus appeared abroad earlier than we initially suspected, then maybe it emerged in Wuhan even earlier than Chinese public health officials have let on?

According to Nikkei, the virus likely began spreading in China last fall, according to separate analyses of the virus's genome conducted by research teams in the UK and elsewhere.

Various studies of viral genetic information have indicated that ongoing person-to-person transmission had begun before the first patient was confirmed in Wuhan on Dec. 8. However, the research offers no clues about where the virusd came from or how it began spreading among the human population in the area, leaving what Nikkei describes as "an even deeper mystery."

Even before these studies, local officials had admitted, perhaps under pressure from Beijing, that they deliberately kept the outbreak under wraps, shaking international faith in Beijing's promised transparency. Now, the WHO is supposedly preparing to begin an "independent" investigation into the origins of the outbreak.

This is far from the first piece of evidence suggesting Beijing dragged its feet on alerting the WHO about the outbreak, helping to unleash the greatest pandemic in 100 years on all of humanity. Yet, many American progressives, when confronted with this information, will simply blame President Trump, who now appears to be gloating about deliberately slowing the testing effort.

Of course, they're not wrong. But China's plan to hoard supplies while it allowed the virus to simply overwhelm the health-care system in Wuhan sounds far more nefarious.

According to the 'official' timeline, the first confirmed patient with pneumonia caused by the coronavirus was identified in Wuhan on Dec. 8. Chinese doctors reported to The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the UK, that this patient began exhibiting symptoms Dec. 1. But whether this was truly the first case has been the subject of intense skepticism.

Researchers at University College London estimate that infections among people began between Oct. 6 and Dec. 11, based on genetic information of the virus drawn from more than 7,500 patients in China, Europe, the US and elsewhere. That's a fairly wide range, and what's more, the research suggests the virus spread beyond China fairly early on.

Meanwhile, a separate team at the University of Cambridge estimates that infections spread to people between mid-September and early December,based on a study of some 1,0000 samples of viral genetic material. The research from Cambridge also suggests the virus may not have originated in Wuhan (a notion that we imagine Chinese propagandists will seize on quickly).

The notion that the virus may have been spreading in places like NYC as early as September, October or November is hardly surprising, when once considers just how widespread it was once testing finally ramped up.

The common ancestor to the new coronavirus, which is close to a type found in bats, seems to have originated in China, said Peter Forster, a fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge. But this ancestor had been found more often outside of Wuhan, such as much farther south in Guangdong Province, until mid-January.

Generally speaking, this research is consistent with findings by a team from Harvard University, relying on satellite imagery, which found that the usage rate of parking lots at large hospitals in Wuhan increased significantly last August.

 

There have also been confirmed one-offs, like a man who died in France of a strange pneumonia-causing syndrome back in December. After his death, tissue revealed that he had been infected. But the connection to the broader outbreak is unclear.

Author:

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Tyler Durden

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COVID-19 may have broken out last August, Harvard indicates

Satellite imagery reveals summer of steep increase in hospital parking lot use

SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerge from the surface of a lab-cultured cell. The virus may have jumped to humans months earlier than previously thought. (Handout/Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) -- The novel coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August 2019, according to Harvard Medical School research based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns and search engine data.

The research used high-resolution satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan -- where the disease emerged in late 2019 -- and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as "cough" and "diarrhoea".

"Increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan preceded the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019," according to the research.

"While we cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work showing that emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market."

"These findings also corroborate the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China and was potentially already circulating at the time of the Wuhan cluster," according to the research.

It showed a steep increase in hospital parking lot occupancy in August 2019.

"In August, we identify a unique increase in searches for diarrhoea which was neither seen in previous flu seasons or mirrored in the cough search data," according to the research.

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Key piece in the Wuhan puzzle, China's 'bat woman' goes dark

Researcher who tracked SARS origin caught in middle of US-China spat

Shi Zhengli heads the center for emerging infectious diseases at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been at the center of speculation about the coronavirus.   © Kyodo

By SHUNSUKE TABETA - 21. May 2020

BEIJING/TOKYO -- Early this month, as top U.S. officials suggested that the novel coronavirus could have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, reports surfaced in Western media that a leading researcher at the institute had fled to France with her family and 1,000 pages of confidential research.