The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ruled out the Wuhan wet market as the origin point of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, the CDC revealed that following an investigation of the animals sold at the market, it was found that the market was not the origin site for the outbreak but the site of an earlier “super-spreader event.”

The first cases of the coronavirus were first reported in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. Initially, authorities thought the outbreak emerged at the local Hunan Seafood Wholesale Market as the coronavirus jumped from the bats being sold at the market to humans. However, the results of the recent investigation suggest that the market was not the origin point of the virus but was just one of its victims.

There is genetic evidence that the coronavirus originated in Chinese bats then jumped to humans via an intermediary animal species. According to the CDC, however, the animals sold at the market were not infected with the coronavirus, so they could not have infected the shoppers. Chinese CDC director Gao Fu revealed in an interview this week that samples collected from the animals sold at the market came back negative for the coronavirus.

Colin Carlson, zoologist at Georgetown University, said the theory that the Wuhan wet market was where the new coronavirus had emerged was plausible since it offered lots of opportunities for an animal to human transmission. However, the fact that the tissue samples from the Wuhan market’s animals revealed no trace of the virus suggested that they were not the carriers.

“This is an animal-origin virus that made the leap, maybe from bats to humans, maybe through… another animal, maybe through livestock,” he said. “And we don’t have the data yet to know where or how. That takes time. The study that really definitively showed the bats that SARS came from was published in 2017,” he added.

According to Carlson, it took them long to go through caves, go through samples, and prove that the origin of the coronavirus was a bat. It also took them months to prove that the Wuhan market was not the origin point of the virus. Considering that, he said finding the definitive origin site of the virus could take much longer.  

COVID-19 Coronavirus is spreading worldwide and countries are doing their best to flatten the curve. Photo by: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay