Covid-19's patient zero was not somebody who contracted the virus from a Wuhan lab, and was not an accountant from another city altogether, as many have theorized, according to a US scientist who has extensively researched the coronavirus' origins. Patient zero was, after all, a woman who sold seafood at a Wuhan live-animal market.
Michael Worobey, a virologist and Professor at University of Arizona, who in May seriously considered the theory that the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab, says in a new Science report, titled "Dissecting the Early Covid-19 Cases in Wuhan," that a corrected timeline of the earliest Covid patients "provides strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic."
From The Guardian:
The chronology is at odds with a timeline laid out in an influential World Health Organization (WHO) report, which suggested an accountant with no apparent link to the Hunan market was the first known case.
The latest report adds weight to the theory that the virus originated from wildlife sold at the market, rather than as a leak from a Wuhan virology lab, and raises questions about how the apparent error was overlooked in the joint WHO-China inquiry.
In early 2021, a WHO-led team of experts spent four weeks in and around the central city of Wuhan with Chinese scientists and concluded in a joint report in March that the Sars-CoV-2 virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal but that further research was needed. It all but ruled out the possibility that Covid-19 originated in a laboratory.
The experts interviewed Mr Chen, an accountant, with no known link to the market, who had reportedly developed symptoms on 8 December and the March report described him as the first known case.
However, the latest analysis, published in Science, highlights discrepancies in this timeline. In an interview with a Chinese news outlet, Chen described attending a clinic with a dental problem on 8 December, saying he only developed Covid symptoms around 16 December. Worobey concluded that the first known case was, therefore, a female seafood vendor who became ill on 11 December.
And from CBS:
… While the WHO report claimed the man originally identified as patient zero had been ill from December 8, he actually was not sick until December 16, according to Worobey.
That deduction was based on a video interview he found, from a case described in a scientific article and from a hospital medical record that matched the 41-year-old man.
That would mean the first reported case would be the woman who worked in the market, who fell ill on December 11.
Peter Daszak, a disease expert who was on the WHO investigation team, said he was convinced by Worobey's analysis.
"That December 8 date was a mistake," he told the Times.