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Chinese research says COVID-19 originated in India



  • A team from China’s top science institution argues that COVID-19 likely originated in India in the summer of 2019.
  • The research says, India’s inadequate healthcare system and young population allowed the virus to spread undetected for various months.

India
Chinese researchers claim COVID-19 originated in India.

A team of Chinese scientists claims that the novel coronavirus may have originated in India last year after being transmitted to humans from animals via contaminated water.

The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in their latest research that the virus was likely originated in India in the summer of 2019, before travelling unnoticed to Wuhan, where it was first detected.

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In their paper, the researchers used phylogenetic analysis – a study of how a disease transmits – to trace the origins of COVID-19.

Like all cells, viruses mutate as they reproduce, meaning small changes occur in their DNA each time they replicate themselves.

Scientists argued that it should be possible to track down the original version of the infection by obtaining the sample with fewer mutations.

They said that applying this approach ruled out the virus found in Wuhan as the ‘original’ virus. The method instead pointed the virus must have been originated in eight other countries, including India, Bangladesh, the US, Italy, Greece, Australia, Czech Republic, Russia.

The researchers further said that because India and Bangladesh both recorded samples with little to low mutations and were geographic neighbors, the first transmission might have happened there.

By calculating the amount of time it takes for the virus to mutate once and comparing it to the samples taken there, they also speculated that the infection first emerged in July or August of 2019.

They added, “From May to June 2019, the second-longest recorded heatwave had rampaged in northern-central India and Pakistan, which created a severe water crisis in the region.

“The lack of water made wild animals engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have undoubtedly increased the chance of human-animal interactions.

We believe that the animal to human transmission of the virus might be linked with this unusual heatwave.”

The study also said that India’s inadequate healthcare system and young population – who suffer less severe symptoms of COVID-19 – allowed the virus to spread undetected for various months.

The experts speculated that the virus could have spread to other countries on their list before coming to China, probably through Europe.

“Following this, the pandemic is inevitable, and the Wuhan epidemic is only a part of it,” they concluded.

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