COVID-19 patient zero may be outside China - WHO

Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that patient zero could be outside China, refers to the Global Times reporting.

The WHO member stressed that patient zero is not necessarily among the first cluster of coronavirus cases. It is speculated that Wuhan, where the first COVID-19 outbreak was reported, may not be the source of the epidemic.

Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that patient zero could have been someone outside of China.

The WHO member also noted that the new coronavirus is extremely difficult to stop, difficult to recognize, difficult to distinguish from other diseases, unless adequate and immediate testing is carried out.

Ryan noted that the search for patient zero could take decades. It took years to find the first person to have Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), he said.

Most scientists have come to a preliminary consensus on the origin of the new coronavirus: it is a naturally occurring virus that may have existed in nature for a long time. The virus first came from a specific species of bats. There may have been some intermediate carrier of the virus before COVID-19 infected humans. However, when, where and how the transfer took place remains unclear.

Identifying patient zero can help address critical issues in the pandemic onset.

The study by Chinese researchers published in the Lancet medical journal, claimed the first person diagnosed with Covid-19 was on 1 December 2019 (a lot of earlier) and that person had "no contact" with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in China, where the outbreak was believed to have broken out for the first time.

This makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact vector of the coronavirus that has infected people. There are many clues that can be used to track patient zero, but many people already have antibodies in their bodies. Hunting for patient zero is hunting for a source to answer the question how the virus got into the human world, said Peking University respiratory specialist Wang Guangfa.

Ekaterina Eliseeva
13:33, 12 August 2020


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