New studies claiming to trace COVID origin back to ‘ground zero’ challenge lab leak theory

Two new studies published this week offer “very strong” evidence that the COVID pandemic began at a wet market in Wuhan, China.

“The first study focused on geography, noting that most of the original 174 patients in December 2019 lived near or were connected to the market. It also confirmed that vendors in the market were selling live mammals that may have been able to spread the disease,” according to Forbes.

“The second focused on the genetics of the virus and found that most of the common lineages of SARS-CoV-2 derived from people directly involved in the marketplace. Those genomics studies also determined that the virus may have jumped to humans twice at that market. This complements previous studies which showed that the coronavirus naturally evolved and lacked any tell-tale [signs] of genetic manipulation.”

The first study specifically determined that the earliest cases of COVID, detected in late 2019, emerged within a small radius around the Huanan Seafood Market, not the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is where some have speculated COVID first infected humans.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, one of the researchers behind the first study, offers more details below:

The second study, meanwhile, debunked the theory that COVID began at the Wuhan lab (lineage A) and then evolved outside of the lab (lineage B).

“During a media briefing with the researchers on Tuesday, Joel Wertheim, PhD, of University of California San Diego and an author on the study looking at the molecular epidemiology of the virus, said the researchers analyzed the genomic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 within and outside of China, starting with the earliest sampled genomes in December 2019 and extending through mid-February 2020,” according to MedPage Today.

“In the beginning, there were just two genetic lineages — A and B — which only differed from each other by a couple of mutations, he said. Lineage A was more genetically similar to related bat coronaviruses, but lineage B appears to have started spreading earlier in humans, particularly at the Huanan market.”

And so lineage B actually came first, and lineage A — the one thought to have been linked to the Wuhan laboratory — came later.

“To address the issue, Wertheim and his fellow researchers simulated SARS-CoV-2-like epidemics, and compared the genomes of simulated viruses to their real-world counterparts, he said. The simulations showed that there wasn’t a way for lineage A to evolve into lineage B within humans or vice versa. Rather, they were ‘far more consistent with the distinct and separate introductions of lineage A and lineage B,’ MedPage Today’s reporting continues.

Meaning both lineage A and lineage B popped into existence independently one of another.

Wertheim admitted for his part that two strains of the same virus magically hopping from animals to humans is a very rare event.

“Now I realize it sounds like I just said that a once-in-a-generation event happened twice in short succession, and pandemics are indeed rare,” he said.

These studies nevertheless “build a very strong case that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid, originally jumped from animals to humans in a market in Wuhan, China,” Forbes notes.

Meaning in turn that it also “builds a very strong case” that the many proponents of the lab-leak theory were dead wrong.

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