Bolt: Was virus spreading months before we noticed?

 

Donald Trump wants you to think this coronavirus escaped from a Chinese laboratory. He wants you to fear and loathe America's big rival.

So he's said he's seen evidence that makes him confident it escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but what that evidence is "I'm not allowed to tell you".

His Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was even more direct on Sunday: "There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."

But they are almost certainly wrong, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison isn't buying it: "There is nothing that we have that indicates that is the likely source."

The truth may even be stranger. There is increasing evidence that this virus didn't start in Wuhan's wet market either, but 800km away in Guangdong, where the bats it essentially came from are found.

What's more, a Cambridge University study analysed virus samples from around the world and suggests the virus started spreading in China as early as September last year - three months before China registered its first infection.

Most virologists agree the virus, showing no sign of genetic engineering, comes from a mutation of the bat virus with one from another species, first thought to be a snake and then possibly a pangolin. The SARS virus of 2003 mutated via a civet.

The Cambridge study says this COVID-19's original form, A, took up to three months to mutate into another, B, which in turn mutated into type C, the most common in Australia.

Type B, not parent A, was the most common in Wuhan, and a Lancet study said the first Wuhan resident to get sick had no connection to the wet market. Nor was the market known to sell bats - or pangolins.

Even stranger, a doctor in Paris, Yves Cohen, says he's rechecked a swab from a patient he treated last December for suspected pneumonia and it tested positive for COVID-19.

If true, the virus was in Europe a month before its official first case. Cohen says his patient's wife worked at a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Nothing is confirmed, but the theory now is this: COVID-19 is natural, and was spreading months before we noticed.

Indeed, until the Morrison Government tests for antibodies - signs of recovery - we don't know if many Australians had the virus months ago, and are now immune.

MORE ANDREW BOLT

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Originally published as Bolt: Was virus spreading months before we noticed?



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