A new genetic analysis from the United Kingdom indicates that the new coronavirus spread rapidly across the world late last year.
Researchers from the College of Genetics at University College London have analyzed the virus genomes of more than 7,500 infected patients worldwide, and the result shows that it has spread since the end of last year and should spread very quickly after the first infection, according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of Infection, Genetics and Evolution.
A large proportion of the global genetic diversity of the coronavirus has been found in all countries with the largest outbreaks, indicating widespread global transmission when the virus appeared in late 2019, according to the statement.
“The virus is changing, but this in itself does not mean it is getting worse,” geneticist Francois Palux of the University of London Institute of Genetics told CNN, adding that the study results add to mounting evidence of that the SARS-2 virus is already involved. Shared since late 2019, indicating this as the period when the virus jumped from a previous animal host to humans.
“We are confident that the host jump occurred late last year,” Palux said.
The study results also mean that it excludes any scenario that assumes that SARS-CoV-2 may have been in human blood circulation for a long time before being identified, and thus has already infected large numbers of people.
Furthermore, the researchers also found genetic evidence supporting theories that the new coronavirus was infecting people in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world weeks or even months before the first official cases of COVID-19 were reported in January. and February.
So far, the research team has created a new interactive online open-source application so that researchers around the world can review virus genomes and apply similar approaches to better understand and track the evolution of the virus.