COVID-19 Origin Debate: New Study Backs Up Original Belief the Virus Started in Wuhan Wet Market
Virologist Michael Worobey, who famously called for an investigation into whether or not COVID-19 began in a lab, traced timelines of every single early case in order to come to his conclusion.
For nearly as long as COVID-19 began making its impacts globally, how the deadly virus originated has been a topic of hot debate among reputable scientists, conspiracy theorists and the average civilian alike. Now, new research is leading esteemed virologists back to the original theory that the coronavirus likely spread to humans from the wet market in Wuhan, China.
"It tells us that there's a big red flashing arrow pointing at Huanan Market as the most likely place that the pandemic started," researcher Michael Worobey, who specializes in the origins of viral epidemics, told CNN. "The virus didn't come from some other part of Wuhan and then get to Huanan market. The evidence speaks really quite strongly to the virus starting at the market and then leaking into the neighborhoods around the market."
Worobey was famously one of the 18 scientists who called for an investigation of all possible sources of the virus in May, and was open to the idea that COVID-19 was leaked from a laboratory, the Washington Post reported.
But after tracing the timeline of each confirmed case of COVID-19 in Dec. 2019 and Jan. 2020 in his published research, he found evidence that supported the original belief that the coronavirus, now responsible for killing more than 5 million people around the world, began from animals at the Wuhan wet market and spread to humans.
"I wouldn't call this conclusive evidence, but I would call this pretty darn strong evidence," Worobey told CNN.
His study also dispels some myths that led people away from the theory that COVID-19 stemmed from the wet market, including what is cited as the “earliest” COVID-19 case of a 41-year-old man who had no connection to the wet market. Health officials said his illness began on Dec. 8, 2019, but that illness was actually a misclassified dental problem, and his battle with COVID-19 actually began on December 16.
But a definitive answer to the origins of COVID-19 may never be possible. China destroyed all animals and disinfected the wet market in January 2020 in order to prevent further spread, and destroyed evidence in the process, Worobey told CNN.
Additionally, the World Health Organization conducted its own investigation into the pandemic, and found animals were most likely the origin, but asked China to provide more information and access in order to help officials make a more determined conclusion. China has not responded to their request.
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