FILE PHOTO: An overview of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the first cluster of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases emerged, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, January 15, 2021. REUTERS / Thomas Peter / File Photo
SINGAPORE, Nov 19 (Reuters) – The first known case of COVID-19 was a vendor from the market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, not an accountant who did not appear to have any connection to the market, but whose case contributed to speculation that the virus could have leaked from a laboratory, according to a US study.
The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 remains a mystery and a major source of tension between China and the United States.
A joint study by China and the World Health Organization (WHO) this year ruled out the theory that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, stating that the most likely hypothesis is that it infected humans naturally, probably through through the trade in wild animals.
A WHO-led team of experts spent four weeks in and around Wuhan city with Chinese scientists, later claiming in a joint report issued in March that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans to through another animal, but it was necessary to continue investigating.
The accountant, who was thought to be the first person with COVID-19, reported that his first symptoms appeared on December 16, several days after what was initially known, said Michael Worobey, chief of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, in a study published in the journal Science on Thursday.
The confusion was due to a dental problem he had on December 8.
“The onset of her symptoms occurred after multiple cases in workers from the Huanan market (in Wuhan), making a seafood vendor from that place the earliest known case, with the onset of the disease on 11 December, “says the study.
The study states that most of the early symptomatic cases were market-related, specifically the western section where raccoon dogs were caged, and provided strong evidence of the origin of the pandemic in live animal markets.
The WHO proposed a new panel of experts last month to investigate the origin of the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel; Translated by José Muñoz in the Gdańsk newsroom)