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Covid came from India or Bangladesh, claim Chinese scientists

Published : Saturday, 28 November, 2020 at 4:37 PM  Count : 473

Covid came from India or Bangladesh, claim Chinese scientists

Scientists in China have claimed that coronavirus may have originated in India or Bangladesh as they try to shift the blame from Wuhan.

A paper by researchers at the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences suggests the virus existed on the Indian subcontinent before the Wuhan outbreak in December last year - but the theory is disputed.

The research, entitled ‘The Early Cryptic Transmission and Evolution of Sars-Cov-2 in Human Hosts’, challenges general orthodoxy among scientists that the virus originated in the wet markets of Wuhan.

It was posted on SSRN.Com, the preprint platform of respected medical journal The Lancet, on November 17 and bases its findings on research into strains of the virus provided by 17 different countries.

The research, led by Dr Shen Libing, claimed the traditional approach to tracing the origin of coronavirus strains did not work as it used a bat virus discovered in Yunnan, southwest China, several years ago.

Scientists use this as an ancestral reference to examine the evolutionary history of the bug but the bat virus is not the human virus’ ancestor.

In the paper, the researchers claim this prevents scientists from tracing the origins of the pandemic.

Instead, they used a new method which involves counting the number of mutations in each viral strain.

They claim that the strains with the most mutations have been around for a longer time, and those with fewer mutations are closer to the original ancestor of Covid-19.

The paper claims that the least mutated strain was found in eight countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Greece, the US, Russia, Italy and the Czech Republic.

It also states that the area of the first outbreak should have the greatest genetic diversity - and cites India and Bangladesh.

The researchers propose that India’s young population, extreme weather and drought created the necessary conditions for the virus to jump to humans.

The researchers write: “Our result shows that Wuhan is not the place where human-to-human SARS-CoV-2 transmission first happened."

It adds: "Both the least mutated strain's geographic information and the strain diversity suggest that the Indian subcontinent might be the place where the earliest human-to-human SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurred, which was three or four months prior to the Wuhan outbreak"

It is worth nothing that the findings are still a preprint and are yet to be peer reviewed- so should not be seen as established conclusions.

Workers wearing protective suits walk next to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be ground zero of the coronavirus.

Workers wearing protective suits walk next to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be ground zero of the coronavirus.

China's President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in March.


SZA



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