Covid patient zero was a seafood vendor in Wuhan; study shows


A new study published in the journal Science has revealed that the first identified Covid-19 case or ‘patient zero’  was a female seafood vendor in an animal market in Wuhan city of China who became symptomatic on December 11, 2019. This study supports the voices that have supported an animal-origin theory.

The study by the Peer-reviewed journal contradicts the findings of the earlier reports which stated the first Covid patient to be a 41-year-old male accountant, who lived 30 km south of Huanan Market and reported his symptoms on December 8.  When interviewed, the accountant said that his Covid symptoms started with a fever on December 16 and the illness on December 8 was a dental problem related to baby teeth retained into adulthood.

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Michael Worobey, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Arizona, in the article said, “This indicates that he was infected through community transmission after the virus had begun spreading from Huanan Market. He believed that he may have been infected in a hospital (presumably during his dental emergency) or on the subway during his commute,”.

The accountant had also traveled north of Huanan Market before his symptoms became apparent. His symptom onset came after multiple cases in workers at Huanan Market, which makes the female seafood vendor the earliest discovered case there, with an onset of illness on December 11.

Several possible Covid-19 cases reported in clinics and hospitals that were near Huanan Market from December 11, and Huanan Market patients were hospitalized at Union Hospital as early as December 10,” Worobey added.

Live mammals are susceptible to coronavirus infection, including raccoon dogs which were sold at Huanan Market and other three live-animal markets in Wuhan before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus cases were found in raccoon dogs during the SARS outbreak, which was impeded by animal-to-human contact in live-animal markets in China.

“Due to the early public health focus on Huanan Market, it remains unclear whether the apparent preponderance of hospitalized Covid-19 cases associated with this market was truly reflective of the initial outbreak,” said Michael Worobey

The study noted, “Unfortunately, no live mammal collected at Huanan Market or any other live-animal market in Wuhan has been screened for SARS-CoV-2-related viruses, and Huanan Market was closed and disinfected on January 1, 2020,”.

Most of the early symptomatic cases were related to the Huanan Market, especially in the western section where raccoon dogs were caged, which provides strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic, as per the study.

Source: Business Standard, Hindustan Times