Researchers at Cambridge University have studied the origin of the virus to calculate the likely date of the initial epidemic.
Their results indicate that the epidemic in Wuhan occurred between September 13 and December 7.
Peter Forster, who led the study, said, “The virus may have mutated to its final” effective for humans “form months ago, but remained inside a bat. mouse or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other people.
“Then it started to infect and spread among humans between September 13 and December 7.”
In the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, the researchers analyzed the coronavirus strains using a mathematical algorithm.
While the virus originated from bats, scientists found hundreds of mutations between the original Sars-CoV-2 and the one first found in Wuhan.
Typically, a coronavirus usually acquires one mutation per month.
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According to the researchers, this indicates that the virus can spread quietly in animals and humans for years, before reaching the form we see today.
Dr Forster said, “If I am in a hurry to get an answer, I would say that the original spread started more likely in southern China than in Wuhan.
“But the evidence can only come from the analysis of more bats, possibly other potential host animals, and the storage of tissue samples in Chinese hospitals between September and December.
“This type of research project would help us understand how transmission happened and prevent similar cases in the future.”
The origin of the coronavirus was widely debated by scientists in the midst of the pandemic.
Although there have been several claims that the virus is of human origin, a study last month found “no evidence” of this.
Researchers at Scripps Research analyzed public data about the genome sequence of the virus and discovered that the virus is the product of natural evolution.
Dr. Kristian Andersen, a study author, said, “By comparing the genome sequence data available for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 is caused by natural processes. “