Cambridge scientist suggests virus did not originate in Wuhan

Getting tested: Residents wearing face masks lining up for nucleic acid testing at a residential compound in Wuhan. — Reuters

BEIJING: There is strong evidence that SARS-Cov-2, or the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, didn’t originate in the city of Wuhan, a University of Cambridge geneticist has found.

In a recent paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Peter Forster, a fellow in archaeological research at Cambridge, said he found three main strains of the virus, labelled as A, B and C.

The A and C types are found in significant proportions outside East Asia, that is, in Europeans and Americans.

In contrast, the B type is the most common type in East Asia.

The A strain was the founding variant because it was the version most similar to the type of SARS-Cov-2 discovered in bats, but it wasn’t the predominant type in Wuhan, according to his research.

Of 23 samples that came from Wuhan, only three were type A, the rest were type B, a version two mutations from A.

But in other parts of China, initially A was the predominant strain, the research said. For instance, of nine genome samples in Guangdong province, five were the A strain.

The A type has largely phased out, and the B type has become the predominant version. The C strain, which mainly appeared in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and in some parts of Europe, has also largely died out.

His research also found that the coronavirus may have been circulating among humans and animals earlier than previously believed, based on an analysis of the mutation rate.

He found that there is a 95% chance that the original successful spread of the virus may have started as early as Sept 13,2019. Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan in December. — China Daily/ANN

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