Coronavirus may have been present and spreading in Wuhan as early as August last year, according to a study that analysed satellite imagery of car parks outside major hospitals and search engine data.
The study, by researchers from Harvard medical school, Boston University of Public Health and Boston children’s hospital, looked at images captured between January 2018 and April 2020 and found a “steep increase” in vehicle counts starting in August 2019 and peaking in December 2019. Between September and October, five of the six hospitals observed had their highest daily volume of cars in the period analysed.
China’s foreign ministry rejected the study, calling it “extremely absurd”.
According to the study, the increase in vehicle volume coincided with a rise in queries on the Chinese search engine Baidu for “cough” and “diarrhoea”, about three weeks before the confirmed rise in coronavirus cases in early 2020. The researchers noted that while queries for cough coincided with the influenza season, diarrhoea is a symptom specific to Covid-19. . .
The origins of Covid-19, which was first detected in a cluster of cases associated with the Huanan seafood market in late December, has become an increasingly sensitive question as China fights off accusations that it should be blamed for the pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people around the world. (Read more from “Recent Study Suggests COVID-19 Was Spreading in August” HERE)