Bhubaneswar: The deadly novel coronavirus that has become a cause for worry for the world, may have been circulating for years and not originated from China. A leading scientist for Oxford University has made the claims.
In a report that appeared in BBC’s Science Focus Magazine, Dr Tom Jefferson claims the deadly virus may have been lying dormant across the world until emerging under favourable environmental conditions. Dr Jefferson, from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) at Oxford University, has pointed to a string of recent discoveries of the virus’s presence around the world before it emerged in Asia as growing evidence of its true origin as a global organism that was waiting for favourable conditions to finally emerge.
Traces of COVID-19 have been found in sewage samples from Spain, Italy and Brazil which pre-date its discovery in China. A preprint study, which has not been peer-reviewed, claims to have found the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomes in a Barcelona sewage sample from March 12, 2019.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph which was posted by Science Focus Magazine, Dr Jefferson has called for an investigation into how and why the coronavirus seems to thrive in environments such as food factories and meatpacking plants.
Jefferson said that, while the Barcelona results still require confirmation, other research in France and Italy also suggests the disease may have been circulating much earlier than previously believed.
Along with CEBM director Professor Carl Heneghan, Dr Jefferson believes this could potentially uncover new transmission routes, such as through the sewerage system or shared lavatory facilities.
The Oxford researcher has called for further studying of all microorganisms in order to understand how they evolve, how they live and how they transmit.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a similar message to Jefferson, also pointing out the unhelpfulness of using geographic locations to try to work out the origin of COVID-19.
The WHO’s comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump used the expression “Chinese virus” on several occasions when referring to the coronavirus.