A pair of studies suggest the coronavirus originally jumped from animals to humans in a market in Wuhan, not a laboratory.

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One of the two studies—which were peer-reviewed and published in the journal Science—said the Huanan Market in Wuhan was probably the original epicenter of the virus because most of the 174 patients recorded in December 2019 lived very close to the market—even if they didn’t have a known direct connection to that location.

The study also confirmed vendors at the market traded and sold live mammals that could have carried the virus in the months leading up to November 2019, including raccoon dogs, red foxes and hog badgers, and some positive coronavirus samples taken at the market were near those stalls.

A second study related on molecular clock analyses–which track genetic mutations over time–to find the most common coronavirus lineages derived from people directly associated with the Huanan Market, suggesting the virus may have been introduced to humans at the market at least twice.

The molecular clock analyzes also found it was "unlikely" that the coronavirus circulated among humans prior to November 2019, although other studies suggest the virus might have emerged as early as mid-October 2019.


The first known cases of what was later identified as Covid-19 were reported in Wuhan in December 2019. Since then, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 6.4 million people. Most experts have long believed the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19—like many emerging viruses—originated in animals, before jumping to humans at a market like Huanan. However, some politicians like Former President Donald Trump have repeated—often with shakey evidence—the theory that the virus actually came from a laboratory in China, and some experts have suggested the “lab leak” theory shouldn't be ruled out, In a report last year, the World Health Organization called the theory "extremely unlikely."

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