Coronavirus (or Covid-19): where and who was patient zero?

Whenever there is a global pandemic, it is natural to wonder how it all started.

We still don’t know for sure where the Black Death of the mid 14th century originated although, in October 2010, medical geneticists suggested that all three of the great waves of the plague originated in China. Similarly there are different views about the origins of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 and, in a recent posting, I highlighted a common view that it started in the United States.

There’s so much we still have to learn about the current coronavirus (or Covid-19) global pandemic, but already there is debate about its origins. Most informed observers believe that it all started in the area of Wuhan in China – where I have stayed on two visits – but some in China are claiming (without evidence) that it originated in the USA.

According to Chinese government data seen by the “South China Morning Post, a 55 year-old from Hubei province could have been the first person to have contracted Covid-19. Interestingly this infection is dated to 17 November 2019, a couple of months before the virus hit the headlines. The relevant individual has not yet been identified publicly.

One of the essential factors in combatting a global pandemic is transparency from the beginning. The lack of such transparency by the Chinse authorities at the start may have longer-term implications for the Chinese Communist Party.


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