onsdag 10. juni 2020

Satellite images of Wuhan may suggest coronavirus was spreading as early as August

Satellite images of hospital parking lots in Wuhan, China, as well as internet search trends, suggest the coronavirus may have been spreading in China as early as last August, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School. The study, which has not yet been peer-viewed, found a significantly higher number of cars in parking lots at five Wuhan hospitals in the late summer and fall of 2019 compared to a year earlier; and an uptick in searches of keywords associated with an infectious disease on China's Baidu search engine. 

The reseachers note they can't directly link the traffic volume to the virus; even if there was an increase in traffic to hospitals, it doesn't mean a new virus was the cause. There has been no other evidence to show the virus was circulating in China in the late summer. The timeline in the new paper suggests signs of the novel coronavirus outbreak emerged well before the currently understood start. The first cases in Wuhan were detected in mid-December, and Chinese officials reported cases of pneumonia to the World Health Organization on December 31. Chinese scientists identified the pathogen as a new strain of coronavirus on January 7.