Study: First Covid-19 case could have hit China in October 2019.

Study: First Covid-19 case could have hit China in October 2019.

Researchers from Britain’s University of Kent used methods from conservation science to estimate that SARS-CoV-2 first appeared from early October to mid-November 2019, according to a paper published in the PLOS Pathogens journal.

The most likely date for the virus’s emergence was Nov. 17, 2019, and it had probably already spread globally by January 2020, they estimated.

China’s first official COVID-19 case was in December 2019 and was linked to Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market. However, some early cases had no known connection with Huanan, implying that SARS-CoV-2 was already circulating before it reached the market.

The data showed that samples taken from the Huanan market were “not representative” of SARS-CoV-2 as a whole, and were a variant of a progenitor sequence that was circulating earlier and spread to other parts of China.

Critics said the deletion of the data was further evidence that China was trying to cover up the origins of COVID-19.

“Why would scientists ask international databases to delete key data that informs us about how COVID-19 began in Wuhan?” said Alina Chan, a researcher with Harvard’s Broad Institute, writing on Twitter.

“Unfortunately with the current pressure of the lab leak hypothesis and the sensitivities in doing this follow-up research in China, it may be some time till we see reports like that,” he said.

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