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The first known Covid case was a vendor in the Wuhan market, scientists claim




Scientists who scrutinized the public reports of early Covid-19 cases in China reported Thursday that an influential World Health Organization study may have misrepresented the early pandemic chronology. According to a new analysis, the first known patient infected with the coronavirus was a seller in Wuhan’s large animal market, not an accountant who lived miles away.

NS reportIt will revive the debate in the prestigious journal Science on Thursday about whether the pandemic started with a spillover from wildlife on the market, a leak from the Wuhan Virology Institute, or otherwise. .. The quest for the origin of the greatest public health catastrophe of the century has fueled geopolitical battles, and several new facts have emerged in recent months to solve the problem.

Michael Warobbie, a scientist who is a leader in tracking the evolution of the virus at the University of Arizona, combines what has already been published in medical journals and video interviews with people in the Chinese press. So I ran into a timeline mismatch. It is believed that there are the first two documented infections.

Dr. Warobib argues that a new analysis of the relationship between vendors and the Wuhan South China Seafood market and the connection of the earliest inpatients to the market strongly suggests that the pandemic began there.

“In this city with a population of 11 million, half of the early cases are related to a place as large as a soccer field,” said Dr. Warobi. “If the outbreak hadn’t started in the market, it would be very difficult to explain the pattern.”

Several experts, including one of the pandemic investigators selected by WHO, said Dr. Warobib’s detective work was sound and Covid’s first known case was probably a seafood vendor.

But some of them also said that there was still insufficient evidence to decisively solve the larger question of how the pandemic began. They suggested that the virus could infect “zero patients” at some point before the vendor’s proceedings and then reach a critical mass for widespread adoption in the market. Study of changes in the viral genome — including those done By Dr. Warobi himself — The first infection suggests that it occurred in mid-November 2019, weeks before the vendor became ill.

“I don’t agree with the analysis,” said Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “But I agree that any of the data is powerful or complete enough to say something with great confidence, except that the Wuhan Huanan Marine Market was clearly a very widespread event. plug.”

This is the first time Dr. Bloom has found that the WHO report, in collaboration with Chinese researchers, contains errors such as errors regarding potential connections to the market for early-stage patients. Said not.

“In all these cases, the ongoing contradiction as to when this happened is a bit daunting,” he said.

Towards the end of December 2019, doctors at several hospitals in Wuhan noticed a mysterious case of pneumonia in people working at the South China Seafood Wholesale Market. Moist, poorly ventilated space Where seafood, chicken, meat and wildlife were sold. On December 30, public health officials told the hospital to report new cases related to the market.

Fearing SARS replays, it’s Appeared From the Chinese animal market in 2002, Chinese authorities ordered the closure of the South China market, Wuhan police officers Shut down On January 1, 2020. Despite these measures, new incidents increased through Wuhan.

Wuhan authorities Said On January 11, 2020, the incident began on December 8. In February, they Identified The first patient as a Wuhan resident named Chen, who became ill on December 8 and had no connection to the market.

Chinese officials and some outside experts suspected that the first high percentage of cases related to the market was a statistical fluke known as confirmation bias. They reasoned that a December 30 call from officials to report market-related illnesses could have caused doctors to overlook other such unrelated cases.

“Initially, we speculated that there might be a new coronavirus in the seafood market,” said Takafuku, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Said in May 2020, According to China Global Television Network. “But now it turns out that the market is one of the victims.”

By the spring of 2020 Senior member Of the Trump administration Facilitate Another scenario about the origin of the pandemic: The virus escaped across the Yangtze River from the Wuhan Institute of Vessels, which has a campus about eight miles from the South China Market.

In January of this year, a researcher selected by WHO visited China and interviewed an accountant who was reported to have symptoms on December 8.Their influence March 2021 Report He was described as the first known case.

However, Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist at the EcoHealth Alliance, who was part of the WHO team, said Dr. Warobib’s analysis convinced them that they were wrong.

“The eighth day of December was a mistake,” said Dr. Dazak.

NS He said the WHO team never asked the accountant when his symptoms began. Instead, they were given the date of December 8 by a doctor at Hubei Xinhua Hospital. He handled other early cases, but did not take care of Mr Chen. “That’s why the mistake is there,” said Dr. Dazak.

Dr. Dazak said the interview was a dead end for WHO experts. The accountant had no clear connection to the animal market, lab, or mass rally. He told them he likes to spend time on the internet and jogging, and he didn’t travel much. “He was vanilla as much as you could get,” said Dr. Dazak.

Dr. Dazak said that if the team identified the seafood vendor as the first known case, they would have been more aggressive in pursuing questions such as the stalls she worked for and the source of the product.

This year, Dr. Dazak Lab Leak Theory.. He and his organization, the EcoHealth Alliance, are enthusiastic about collaborative research with the Wuhan Institute of Vessel Virus. last month, National Institutes of Health said EcoHealth violates the terms of the grant for the study of bat coronavirus.

A doctor at Xinhua Hospital in Hubei Province said the accountant’s illness had developed on December 8, but a senior doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital, where Mr. Chen was treated, said. Told the Chinese press He developed symptoms around December 16th.

When asked about Mr Chen’s case, the Chinese National Health Commission said Liang Mannen, the Chinese leader of the WHO-China investigation, who led the interview with doctors at Hubei Xinhua Hospital, supported it. ..Mr. Liang February press conference The first Covid case of the year showed symptoms on December 8th and was “unrelated” to the South China Market.

Among them report, WHO expert Conclusion The virus is likely to spread to people from the spread of animals, but they could not confirm that the South China market was the source. In contrast, they said the lab leak was “very unlikely.”

The report has been blamed for some errors and shortcomings.Washington post clearly In July, the report included false virus samples from several early-stage patients, including the first official case, and the first family cluster of cases was mistakenly associated with the South China Seafood market. WHO has promised to fix the error, but it remains in the report on the organization’s website. (The organization said it would ask the report author if and how to correct the mistake.)

In May, two months after the WHO and China reports were released, 18 prominent scientistsIncluding Dr. Warobib, responded with a scientific letter complaining that the WHO team gave Laborak theory a short period of time. They argued that much more research was needed to determine if one explanation was more likely than another.

Experts on the origin of influenza When HIVDr. Warobib tried to connect the early days of the Covid May 2020 research In an early case written by Wuhan’s local doctors and health authorities, he was puzzled by an explanation that looked like Mr Chen: a 41-year-old man who was not in contact with the South China Market. However, the author of the study put his symptoms on December 16th instead of December 8th.

Later, Dr. Warobib discovered what appeared to be the second independent source of information. It is Mr. Chen himself.

“I had a fever on the 16th during the day,” said a man identified as Mr. Chen. Video interview in March 2020 When paper, Shanghai-based publication.The video shows that Mr. Chen was 41 years old at work I have never been to the South China Market at the company’s finance office. Official report He said he lived in the Wuchang district of Wuhan, a few miles from the market.

The New York Times was unable to independently identify the man in the video.

Mr. Chen said he went to the hospital that day, feeling tense with the fever on December 16. “Even if you don’t exercise hard, you’ll feel short of breath with just a little effort, as we’re talking about,” he said.

Dr. Warobib said the medical records shown in the video may hold clues as to how the WHO-China report ended on the wrong date. On one page, Mr. Chen explained an operation that required a tooth to be removed. The other was the December 9th prescription for antibiotics that mentions fever the day before, probably from the day of dental surgery.

In the video, Mr. Chen speculated that he might have gotten Covid “when I went to the hospital.” Probably a reference to his previous dental surgery.

Washington post I got it In July, details provided by WHO about the December 8 incident, entry From an online database of virus samples linked to people who got sick on December 16th. In response, WHO said it was investigating the discrepancy.

An agency spokesman told The New York Times that the first known case was “difficult to comment” because the WHO team had restricted access to health data. He said it was important for researchers to continue to look for infected patients sooner.

In Dr. Warobi’s revised chronology, the earliest case is not Chen, but a seafood vendor named Wei Guixian who developed symptoms around December 11 (Wei is the same video released by The Paper. Said her seriously in the symptoms began on December 11th, she said The Wall Street Journal She said she started to feel sick on December 10th. The WHO-China report described the December 11 incident related to the market. )

Dr. Warobib found that the hospital had reported more than 12 possible cases by December 30, when Wuhan officials warned doctors that they were keeping an eye on market relations.

He determined that Wuhan Central Hospital and Hubei Xinhua Hospital had each recognized seven cases of unexplained pneumonia by December 30, confirmed as Covid-19. At each hospital, 4 out of 7 cases were market-related.

Dr. Warobib argued that by focusing solely on these cases, confirmation bias could distort results and eliminate the potential for market advantage.

Still, other scientists said it was uncertain that the pandemic had begun on the market.

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a virologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said: “But two years ago, it’s still unclear, so I don’t think we can tell what’s going on.”

Arinachan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one of the best researchers. Voice supporters After investigating the lab’s leaks, he said that only new details about previous cases (dating back to November) help scientists determine the cause.

“The main problem this points out is lack of access to the data and incorrect WHO-China reports,” she said.

Eleanor Goodman contributed the translation and Liu Yi contributed the research.




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