Madrid, June 27: A fresh research conducted in two European nations raise doubt over the claim of China being an epicentre of coronavirus. The studies on sewage conducted in Spain and Italy revealed that the SARS-nCOV-19 virus was present in waste waters of both the countries way before the world recorded its first confirmed case. Coronavirus Vaccine: AstraZeneca Awarded Deal to Supply Europe With 400 Million Doses by 2020-End.
The University of Barcelona, in its examination of the waste water collected in Barcelona back in March 2019, found the virus present in the sample. The finding has disclosed the fact that coronavirus was present in Spain almost a year before the country recorded its first case.
A similar study conducted by Italy's National Institute of Health (ISS) found that the genetic traces of COVID-19 virus was present in the waste water collected in Milan and Turin in December 2019.
In May, scientists in France claimed that a man who was diagnosed with pneumonia on December 27 had contracted coronavirus. The patient's swab, which was recently tested, was found positive for COVID-19. The person had recovered from the disease and did not travel abroad since then.
The findings in Europe serve as a shot in the arm for China, which has pitched up its diplomacy to counter the tag of "coronavirus epicentre". The nation has claimed that the virus originated way back, possibly in Europe.
"The presence of the virus in the sewage offers us a clue about the existence of the virus in Spain, either among people or animals, before China reported its first COVID-19 patient in December 2019," Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, was quoted as saying by China's state-run daily Global Times.
China reported its first coronavirus case in Wuhan in December last year, but a recent WHO study claimed that the virus outbreak in the country may date back to October 2019. Spain and Italy - the two nations which suffered the maximum brunt in Europe - confirmed their first cases in February this year.
One of the reasons why the virus did not infect people in Europe, despite being traced back to March 2019 in Spain, is possibly due to its less contagious nature at the time. The virus mutated in the months to come and turned more infectious, explained Wang.