COVID-19 cases happened earlier than assumed; Study

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Representational Image

A new data model presented by researchers led by David Roberts of the University of Kent in Britain suggests that the first Chinese COVID-19 case occurred in early October and mid-November 2019, a month earlier than widely believed. 

The mathematical model processed by the researchers proposes that the virus spread around the world far more quickly than was previously realized.

In an analysis published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, the researchers reported that the first case was likely to have been on November 17.

China had reported its first COVID-19 case in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in early December 2019, although experts have long thought the virus was spreading between people before that.

A World Health Organization (WHO) team of scientists tasked with studying the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak at the start of the year also had shared a similar view on the first case of the pandemic.

The researchers used the available information about the first confirmed cases in China and abroad to create a model from the field of conservation that is used to make predictions about the extinction of species and calculate the most likely period of time it would have taken the pathogen to jump from animals to humans

The resulting model proposes that the virus is likely to have spread worldwide as early as January. The scientists’ calculations indicate that the first infections outside China could have occurred around January 3 in Japan.

Based on the model, the team suggests that in Europe, the first case would have been in Spain, near January 12. Meanwhile, United States would have seen its first infection happen around January 16.

Related: DXB opens one of world’s largest in-house airport COVID-19 RT PCR test lab