Studies led by UArizona virus expert link origin of COVID-19 pandemic to China market

Jul 27, 2022, 4:15 AM

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)...

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

PHOENIX — A pair of studies led by a virus expert from the University of Arizona linked the likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic to live animals sold at a market in China.

Dr. Michael Worobey and a team of researchers traced the pandemic’s start to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, according to one study published Tuesday.

Foxes, raccoon dogs and other live mammals susceptible to the virus were sold at the market before the start of the pandemic.

Those animals likely got COVID from wild bats or Chinese farms, according to a second study published Tuesday.

The transmission of the virus from animals to human likely happened on two occasions in late November 2019, the study said.

“In a city covering more than 3,000 square miles, the area with the highest probability of containing the home of someone who had one of the earliest COVID-19 cases in the world was an area of a few city blocks, with the Huanan market smack dab inside it,” Worobey said in a press release.

The peer-reviewed studies “virtually eliminate alternative scenarios that have been suggested as origins of the pandemic,” according to the release.

Scientists also created a detailed map of how the virus spread from the Wuhan market.

The researchers said that 155 of the initial 174 COVID-19 cases identified by the World Health Organization in December 2019 were in Wuhan.

By February 2020, cases had spread to the areas in Wuhan with highest population density.

“This tells us the virus was not circulating cryptically,” Worobey said. “It really originated at that market and spread out from there.”

Arizona health officials have documented more than 2.2 million people in the state with over 30,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Mugshot courtesy of Tempe PD, file photo from Tempe PD Facebook)...

Officers shoot suspect who allegedly rammed police vehicle at Tempe parking garage entrance

Two Tempe police officers fired at a suspect who allegedly rammed his car into theirs at a parking garage late Thursday night.

4 hours ago

Six people have died from heat-related causes in metro Phoenix this year. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, F...

Associated Press

At least 6 heat-related deaths reported in metro Phoenix so far this year as high hits 115 degrees

At least six people have died from heat-related causes this year so far in metro Phoenix, where the temperatures this week hit 115 degrees.

4 hours ago

Deleon Haynes, 19, was arrested in connection with two investigations after he was sentenced earlie...

Court seeks to revoke Gilbert teen’s probation following new arrests

Deleon Haynes, the first adult sentenced in connection with East Valley youth violence, was arrested again by Gilbert Police on Friday.

4 hours ago

A Border Patrol agent leads a group of migrants seeking asylum towards a van to be transported and ...

Associated Press

Border Patrol reports arrests are down 25% since Biden announced new asylum restrictions

Border Patrol agents saw the third-fewest arrests of people illegally crossing into the U.S. in May of any month during the Biden presidency.

5 hours ago

A shelter in place in Buckeye was lifted after about two and a half hours. (@BuckeyeAZPD photo)...

Shelter in place lifted in Buckeye after crews clean nitric acid spill

A shelter in place was lifted after about two and a half hours Friday evening after officials worked to contain a chemical leak in Buckeye.

6 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: How giving to area food banks has a direct impact on Arizona children

Food Bank Fridays continues with Outspoken with Bruce and Gaydos. The guys up their goal, receive a donation from the Tunderbirds and hear the direct impact donations have on children in Arizona. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Studies led by UArizona virus expert link origin of COVID-19 pandemic to China market