The source said the records are contained in a nearly 200-page appendix that was released alongside the WHO panel’s March report, which received little attention from global experts at the time. However, the data could reinforce Chinese critics’ calls for greater transparency and the WHO team’s desire to return to the country for further studies.
The appendix to the WHO report contains several data points that provide interesting insight into China’s evolving knowledge of the virus and the likely timing of its creation.
It provides details on the storage and destruction of positive Covid-19 samples from people in China. a significant influenza outbreak that coincided with the virus in December 2019; and the discovery that the first people known to be infected with the virus came into contact with a total of 28 different food and animal markets in December.
The team hopes to clarify the data attached to the WHO report, the source said, including a suspicious reference to extensive screening by Chinese authorities for animals susceptible to the virus from the first week of December 2019. The first case of the Virus in humans The disease recognized by China fell ill the day after this test on December 8th of this year.
On page 98 it says in the appendix that on December 7, 2019, samples were taken from 69 animal species, including macaques, forest musk deer, porcupines and bamboo rats. The samples were tested for the virus, later dubbed SARS-CoV-2, in February 2020 and found negative in response to inquiries from CNN, according to a statement from China’s National Health Commission (NHC).
The existence of the samples had not been publicly disclosed prior to the WHO team’s report. The source close to the WHO panel said the random timing of the sample collection made their experts say, “This is strange.”
The entry may have been poorly worded, the source added. The source said the WHO panel accepted the Chinese scientists’ explanation that this was a routine screening, but the panel wanted to examine the raw data as these samples had clearly been stored.
In its statement, the NHC said that the samples listed in the appendix were collected between February and December 2019 because “prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the relevant departments had actively monitored key animal diseases in artificial breeding plants for wild animals in Hubei province”. The statement does not indicate whether the samples tested in February 2020 came from December 7th alone or from a longer period in 2019.
The NHC statement added, “As part of the active surveillance network, wildlife samples were collected based on wildlife activity routines, and apart from regular collection and testing, these samples were properly stored as needed. After the coronavirus outbreak, researchers conducted retrospective tests on these samples. “
The source close to the panel said a potentially revealing part of the March 2020 report that needs further investigation is the January 2020 excess mortality data in China, which could reveal the first deaths from the virus.
“The excess mortality figures showing in the third week of January in Wuhan and a little later in Hubei can be traced back to those infections in the second half of December,” the source said. “That shows a substantial undiscovered circulation in December in Wuhan and later in Hubei.”
The source said the data showed the infection likely began in Wuhan City, the provincial capital of Hubei, rather than the rest of the province surrounding the city.
“You probably already had some sporadic cases in November,” they said. “But not in significant numbers – so it starts to expand very slowly and then it expands very slowly.”
China’s decision to destroy early samples of the virus is also disclosed in the appendix to the report. Page 116 states that early tissue samples from virus cases from a key Wuhan hospital, Xinhua, were destroyed at the start of the outbreak. The source said the panel found that the samples were destroyed in the spring of 2020 and that it was “a shame as these samples are not available retrospectively”.
The appendix states that Chinese data protection laws prevented the samples from being kept. The source close to the panel also accepted the Chinese rationale that “not hundreds of thousands of potentially live samples were standing around in hundreds of hospitals and clinics” at a time when their healthcare system was struggling at the height of the outbreak. “”
The loads on the medical system can also be seen in the appendix. It is said that in December 2019, Xinhua Hospital recorded a 40% increase in “outpatient fever clinic visits” compared to the same month last year. Several data points in the report and its appendix show a widespread influenza outbreak in and around Hubei Province in late 2019.
The source said the tip showed that “there was a major influenza outbreak occurring more or less at the same time” as the coronavirus emerged. The coexistence of the influenza outbreak with the first cases of the virus “explains the difficulty in identifying Covid cases in December and early January,” the source said. It remains unclear what influence the influenza spike had on the detection of the first cases of the novel coronavirus.
You can also find important details in the appendix on the first known case of the virus – a person who was reported to have developed symptoms on December 8th.
For the first time, the appendix contains more detailed information on the case: A man who is supposed to work as an accountant for his family business, “without evidence of high-risk exposures (wildlife, mass gatherings, contacts with health care facilities, contact” with a symptomatic person, Travel etc.) “
On page 178 the appendix states that only a third of the first cases were exposed to market risk and about a quarter of the early cases in which there was market risk had been in contact with a total of 27 other markets. The first patient had a relative who visited a “wet market” that sells live animals. However, the patient himself had no contact with such a “wet market” and actually only visited one RT Mart – a grocery store – in the Jiangxia district, which was more than 20 kilometers from the Huanan market.
The source said the increasing details of how few early cases were exposed to the Huanan market made it harder to establish its role in the initial spread of the virus, but did not completely rule out the market as a launch point in Wuhan. They said.
A central challenge for the investigation, according to the source, was that only severe cases of the virus would have been noticed in early December – a small subgroup of the total infected people. “By early December, you must have had dozens, if not hundreds of cases in the market that would never have been picked up,” they said. “These could be the ones that would give us clues about the role of the market in the city.”
The source said the panel wanted better access to previous cases and information on less severe, potential Covid-19 patients, if available. “It was difficult to judge without having a clear understanding of the connection between all these cases. Some of them were friends or colleagues. And spending a lot of time together, playing cards and going about their business. Others had nothing to do with it. ” each other.”
In March, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, China praised the WHO team’s investigation. “China has always been an advocate of global scientific research into the source of the virus and how it is transmitted,” he added.
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