New information in the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus infection has come to light as a United States scientist who dedicated himself to studying public accounts of early COVID-19 cases in China suggested that patient zero was a Wuhan market vendor.

The scientist said that an influential World Health Organization (WHO) inquiry looking into the origin of the health crisis most likely made a mistake in its early chronology of the pandemic. The international agency's initial investigation related the first coronavirus case to an accountant who lived many miles from the Wuhan market.

Coronavirus Infection Origin

On Thursday, the scientist published the report in the prestigious journal Science that is set to rekindle the debate of whether or not the coronavirus pandemic started from wildlife sold at the market, a leak from a virology lab, or some other way.

The controversy of where the greatest public health catastrophe in a century started has resulted in massive geopolitical battles. However, in the recent months where professionals worldwide have struggled to find the answer to the question, very few new facts and pieces of information have surfaced, the New York Times reported.

The Arizona-based scientist, Dr. Michael Worobey, who is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, said he based his conclusions on public records and reports of early cases in the pandemic in China. He noted that the vendor, who he believes is patient zero, was from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

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Worobey said that the earliest symptomatic cases were linked to the Huanan Market, more specifically, in the western section of the area where vendors kept raccoon dogs in cages. He said that the incident provided strong evidence of a live-animal market being the origin of the health crisis.

Wuhan authorities, February 2020, said that they had identified the first coronavirus patient, who was allegedly a male accountant who fell ill on Dec. 8, 2019. Officials said that the man had no connection to the Wuhan market. Earlier this year, WHO representatives visited China and interviewed the accountant, who was described in March 2021 as the first known case of the deadly infection, Fox News reported.

Relationship to the Wuhan Market

Worobey said that more than half of the earliest documented cases of the coronavirus were among residents who had direct links to the Wuhan market. He argued that the case was not a mere coincidence. The scientist said that the female seafood vendor who is the first known patient became symptomatic on Dec. 11, 2019.

While his claims contradict reports from Wuhan authorities that said the accountant who had no relationship to the market was the first known case of the coronavirus after becoming symptomatic on Dec. 8, 2019. Worobey said the patient's medical records showed he visited the dentist on that day and did not show symptoms until Dec. 16, 2019, and six days later, was hospitalized.

Despite the virus being very stealthy due to its capability of spreading asymptomatically, the locations and occupations of the first known patients pointed to a Wuhan market origin. Worobey said that the virus spread outward into the city of 11 million people, the Washington Post reported.

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