COVID-19 pandemic begun with seafood seller at Wuhan market, scientists say

12:42, 19 November 2021
COVID-19 pandemic begun with seafood seller at Wuhan market, scientists say Photo: TPG/Keystone Press Agency

An animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan might be the most likely place of origin for the COVID-19 pandemic as the first infected person was a seafood seller, the journal Science reported.

The study authors drew up a detailed graph of all documented cases of SARS-Cov-2 even before the pandemic was declared. Most of those infected persons worked or lived in the Wuhan Market.

“In this city of 11 million people, half of the early cases are linked to a place that’s the size of a soccer field. It becomes very difficult to explain that pattern if the outbreak didn’t start at the market,” the American evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey told the New York Times.

Earlier, a 41-year-old accountant who had the virus symptoms on December 16, 2019, was considered the zero patient while he had nothing to do with the Wuhan market. Worobey came to the conclusion that he contracted the disease much later, and initially his health problems were associated with teeth.

“His symptom onset came after multiple cases in workers at Huanan Market, making a female seafood vendor there the earliest known case, with illness onset 11 December,” the study reads.

The scientists believe that most early symptomatic cases were reported at the market, specifically to the section where raccoon dogs were caged, and it would mark a strong proof of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic.

Experts still have not come to a consensus on how the coronavirus could have appeared. According to the United States Intelligence Community report, there are two hypotheses for the origin of COVID-19: infection through an animal and "an incident related to the work in the Wuhan laboratory."