Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive – rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.
Dr Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), at Oxford, and visiting professor at Newcastle University, argues that there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia.
Last week, Spanish virologists announced they had found traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the coronavirus disease was seen in China.
Italian scientists have also found evidence of coronavirus in sewage samples in Milan and Turin, in mid-December, many weeks before the first case was detected, while experts have found traces in Brazil in November.
Dr Jefferson believes that many viruses lie dormant throughout the globe and emerge when conditions are favourable. It also means they can vanish as quickly as they arrive.
“Where did Sars 1 go? It’s just disappeared,” he said “So we have to think about these things. We need to start researching the ecology of the virus, understanding how it originates and mutates.
“I think the virus was already here, here meaning everywhere. We may be seeing a dormant virus that has been activated by environmental conditions.