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  • Ryan Wittler

New Research Suggests a Wuhan Market Was the Epicenter of the Pandemic


Associated Press


Over the weekend, research teams released the results of three new studies adding to the body of evidence tracing the COVID outbreak to a massive seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Each study is a preprint, meaning, is hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal.


Some highlights:


According to Nature, the preprints contain genetic analyses of SARS-CoV-2 samples collected from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (pictured above) and from people infected in December 2019 and January 2020.

  • The reports use geolocation analyses connecting the samples to a section of the market that sold live animals.

  • One of the reports suggests the coronavirus spilled over from animals into humans at least twice in November or December 2019.


Kristian Andersen, a co-author of two of the papers, says the three studies provide separate lines of evidence pointing towards the market as the source of the outbreak.


Why it matters:


The Wuhan market has been identified as a source of the outbreak of infections dating back to January 2020, when Chinese authorities shuttered it after data linked it to the majority of infected people.


Experts who spoke to Nature say the new studies add to the body of evidence that identifies the market as the epicenter of the pandemic. At the very least, the papers confirm the market as an important spreading location.


Still, other experts told Nature the reports don’t offer anything definitive, and don’t rule out the possibility that the market was an amplifying event rather than a source of the spillover.


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