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Proof that the Huanan market in Wuhan, China, was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic

In a latest examine revealed in Science, researchers analyzed information from a number of sources to find out the epicenter of the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Examine: The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture Credit score: Adamlee01/Shutterstock


In the course of the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists hypothesized that animals offered on the Huanan market have been the supply of the inexplicable pneumonia instances in Wuhan, China, which led to its closure on 1 January 2020. A scientific assessment of all of the instances notified to China’s Nationwide Notifiable Illness Reporting System confirmed that 55 of 168 of the earliest recognized COVID-19 instances have been related to the Huanan market.

Just like the Huanan market, there are three different markets in Wuhan the place sustained reside mammal gross sales occurred throughout 2019. Nonetheless, attributable to an absence of knowledge relating to upstream occasions of the market and obscurity of tangible circumstances on the market, implicating early instances within the Huanan market doesn’t conclusively set up that the pandemic originated there.

Concerning the examine

Within the current examine, researchers first fastidiously examined the 2021 World Well being Group (WHO) mission report, which recognized 174 extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) instances in Hubei province in December 2019. They may reliably extract the latitude and longitude coordinates of 155 instances from the maps. Subsequent, the researchers reconstructed chance density contours by a kernel density estimate (KDE) utilizing all 155 COVID-19 instances geo-locations from December 2019 and the 120 COVID-19 instances places from December 2019 unlinked to the Huanan market. They noticed that the situation of the Huanan market lay throughout the highest density 1% contour in each situations.

The very best density 50% contour is the world the place instances extracted from the chance distribution are as more likely to lie inside as exterior the Haunan market. The staff additionally recognized the very best density 25%, 10%, 5%, and 1% contours. Equally, they recognized 50% to 1%  highest chance density contours for 737 COVID-19 case places from Weibo information.

Additional, the researchers used an empirical null distribution of Wuhan’s inhabitants density to find out whether or not the December COVID-19 instances have been nearer to the Huanan market. They thought of three classes of instances:

(i) all instances,

(ii) instances linked on to the Huanan market,

(iii) instances unlinked to the Huanan market

Examine findings

Most December 2019 SARS-CoV-2 instances in Wuhan clustered in central Wuhan close to the west financial institution of the Yangtze River. The researchers mapped these December 2019 instances utilizing location information from people utilizing a COVID-19 help app on Sina Weibo. By January and February 2020, COVID-19 instances surged in extremely populated areas of Wuhan, significantly the place the aged inhabitants resided.

Additional, the researchers made two essential observations. First, the COVID-19 instances unlinked to the Huanan market on common resided nearer to the market than these linked to the market. Second, the space between the case middle factors and the Huanan market was shorter than anticipated for all December 2019 instances relative to the empirical null distribution of Wuhan’s inhabitants density.

The middle level for all of the instances was 1.02 kilometers (km) away. Likewise, the center-point for December 2019 instances linked to the Huanan market and unlinked to the market was 2.28 km and 0.91 km away, respectively. Below the ‘center-point distance to the Huanan market’ check and ‘median distance to Huanan market’ check, the researchers might take away 38 instances residing inside a radius of 1.6km and 98 instances residing inside a radius of 5.8km earlier than dropping significance on the α=0.05 degree, respectively.

Aside from the Huanan market, no different area in Wuhan confirmed excessive case density in a spatial relative danger evaluation reported by way of Weibo. Each SARS-CoV- A and B lineages have co-circulated globally since early within the COVID-19 pandemic. Intriguingly, each these lineages have been geographically related to the Huanan market.

A latest preprint additionally confirmed the authenticity of the Chinese language Middle for Illness Prevention and Management (CCDC) report, which documented the early presence of the A lineage of SARS-CoV-2 in a Huanan market environmental pattern. Thus, it’s doubtless that SARS-CoV-2 lineage A, like lineage B, might need originated on the Huanan market after which transmitted onwards from this epicenter into the market neighborhoods after which past.

Spatial analyses throughout the market additionally recognized a number of SARS-CoV-2-positive environmental samples, together with cages, carts, and freezers, concentrated within the southwest nook of the market, the place distributors offered reside mammals, together with raccoon canine instantly earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings instructed that SARS-CoV-2-infected reside animals have been current on the Huanan market originally of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Regardless of restricted testing of reside wildlife offered on the market, the examine outcomes evidenced that the Huanan market was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and SARS-CoV-2 doubtless emerged from the reside wildlife commerce in China, implying it had a zoonotic origin. Certainly, markets such because the Huanan market promoting reside mammals pose the very best danger of virus spillover. Concerted efforts are wanted to elucidate the upstream occasions which may have carried SARS-CoV-2 into the Huanan market, terminating within the COVID-19 pandemic to restrict the routes and alternatives for virus spillover sooner or later. Future research ought to proceed finding out the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to decrease the chance of future pandemics.

Journal reference:

  • Michael Worobey, Joshua I. Levy, Lorena Malpica Serrano, Alexander Crits-Christoph, Jonathan E. Pekar, Stephen A. Goldstein, Angela L. Rasmussen, Moritz U. G. Kraemer, Chris Newman, Marion P. G. Koopmans, Marc A. Suchard, Joel O. Wertheim, Philippe Lemey, David L. Robertson, Robert F. Garry, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Kristian G. Andersen. (2022). The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Science. doi: 0.1126/science.abp8715

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