Finding patient zero. A new report might solve one of the world’s greatest mysteries
A new report has offered new information about the origins of Covid-19 and could perhaps be the key to solving one of the biggest mysteries in living memory.
The term patient zero refers to the first person to be infected with an illness.
In the case of Covid-19, patient zero is the first person to contract a virus which would go on to infect over 257 million people worldwide. Finding them could be the key to figuring out how the virus first began.
Put together through hundreds of interviews and public accounts of the earliest cases of Covid, it suggests that the first person to contract the virus was a female seafood vendor at an animal market in Wuhan, China.
Dr Worobey claims the virus came from a part of the market which mostly sells caged raccoon dogs, which, he writes, provides strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic.
“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,” he told the Washington Post last week.
“It becomes very difficult to explain that pattern if the outbreak didn’t start at the market.”
The report claims that an inquiry carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year is incorrect, as it suggested that an accountant several miles away was the first case.
Unsurprisingly, the report has reignited the debate over whether the biggest global health crisis in living memory actually came from a leak in a lab several miles from the wet market.
Neither the WHO report nor Dr Worobey’s support this theory.
While many experts have voiced their support for Dr Worobey’s report, many say that it is not conclusive in the search for patient zero.
“I don’t disagree with the analysis,” said virologist Jesse Bloom, who added that there was not enough data available from China in the earliest days of the outbreak.
Some experts have also argued that while Dr Worobey’s report may have found the earliest known case in the seafood vendor, she was not necessarily the first.
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