The first case of covid-19 in Europe would have occurred in Spain, on January 12, 2020, and the coronavirus would have emerged in China between the beginning of October and mid-November 2019, with the most likely date of 17 of that month , according to a mathematical model published by Plos Pathogens.
Although the first officially identified covid-19 case occurred in early December 2019, as the authors recall, their analysis “suggests that the spread of the virus occurred much earlier and faster than confirmed cases imply.”
The British, American and Czech team, led by David Roberts from the University of Kent (UK) used a conservation science method for their analysis, which is used to date species extinctions, and the data came from the Woldometers real-time statistics base. In reference to the study, Fernando González Candelas, one of the directors of the SeqCovid-Spain consortium, in charge of sequencing thousands of SARS-CoV-2 genomes in Spain and who did not participate in the research, told Efe that the model ” it does not include genomic or epidemiology data against which to test its predictions. ”
The study estimates that the disease would have spread worldwide in January 2020 and suggests that the first case outside of China would have occurred in Japan on January 3, 2020. The coronavirus would have left East Asia to reach Europe, with the first case estimated in Spain on January 12, 2020, compared to the date of January 31 when the first patient was notified, a German tourist in La Gomera (Canary Islands)
In a few days, all over the world
The investigation indicates that SARS-Cov-2 reached North America in the United States and sets the date at January 16, 2020, while in Australia it would be January 23; in Africa on February 9 in Nigeria and, in South America, on February 19 in Brazil.
With their study, the authors want to help clarify when the pandemic started, for which they reused a mathematical model originally developed by conservation scientists to determine the date of extinction of a species, based on recorded sightings of the same. . In this case, the team reversed the method to determine the date that COVID-19 likely originated, based on the date some of the first known cases occurred in 203 countries.
The researchers believe that this approach could be applied to better understand the spread of other infectious diseases in the future. Roberts indicates that the method used was originally developed by him and a colleague to date extinctions, but that this “novel application in the field of epidemiology offers a new opportunity to understand the appearance and spread of diseases, since it only requires a small amount of data”.