RESEARCHERS found that COVID-19 may not have originated in China and could have existed decades ago in a dormant stage in the environment. What does it mean?
Senior associate tutor at Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), Dr Tom Jefferson said that there has been evidence of the virus emerging in other parts of the world way before it was discovered in Wuhan, China, back in December 2019.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph
, he argued that the virus may have lain dormant for the past decades, waiting for a ripe environmental condition to thrive in.
Traces of COVID-19 were already found in Brazil’s sewage samples last November, while researches in Spain also detected the coronavirus from wastewater in Barcelona in March 2019.
In Italy, researchers also found traces of the virus in the sewage of Milan and Turin last December. What’s next?
Dr Jefferson along with CEBM director Professor Carl Heneghan called for an investigation into new transmission route, mainly through sewage and faecal transmission, citing an example from the Spanish Flu outbreak back in 1918.
“Strange things like this happened with Spanish Flu.
"In 1918, around 30 per cent of the population of Western Samoa died of Spanish Flu and they hadn’t had any communication with the outside world.”
They called on researchers to investigate the ecology of the virus to determine its origins.
“The explanation could only be that these agents don’t come or go anywhere.
"They are always here, and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should look for.