Researchers at the Harvard Medical School say new data could indicate the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China in summer or fall of 2019, much earlier than previously believed.
The researchers tracked the traffic flow via satellite in the same manner as intelligence agencies monitor activities of foreign countries or suspected criminals, according to a study released Monday by ABC News.
The group “observed a dramatic increase in hospital traffic outside five major Wuhan hospitals beginning late summer and early fall 2019,” Dr. John Brownstein, who led the Harvard medical team, told ABC news. He is the chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital as well as the director of the medical center’s Computational Epidemiology Lab. (RELATED: Mike Pompeo Blames Chinese Communist Party For Global ‘Suffering’ Due To COVID-19)
Brownstein is also an ABC News contributor. He told ABC News that the traffic also “coincided with” internet searches for “certain symptoms that would later be determined as closely associated with the novel coronavirus.”
Though Brownstein told ABC News the evidence doesn’t necessarily point to anything other than more cars on the street and more people on the internet looking for irregular medical information, he said the information is compelling regardless and that other possible factors were considered and dismissed during the research.
“Something was happening in October,” Brownstein told ABC News. “Clearly, there was some level of social disruption taking place well before what was previously identified as the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
Although the novel coronavirus has so far been substantially less lethal than the Spanish flu pandemic that killed anywhere between 17 and 100 million just over a century ago, it has infected nearly 7 million and devastated the global economy to a degree not experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. (RELATED: Peter Navarro Says China Used ‘The Four Kills’ To Attack America Through The Coronavirus Pandemic)
China did not formally identify the COVID-19 virus to the World Health Organization until Dec. 31, 2019, but United States intelligence began reporting stories of the spreading virus at least one month earlier.
ABC reported that the South China Morning Post found evidence of a COVID-19 case as early as Nov. 17, 2019.
Brownstein and his research team, composed of which health experts from Boston University and Boston Children’s Hospital, analyzed data from China’s Hubei province in their efforts to chart the origins of the coronavirus. The analysis has been submitted to a journal for peer review.
China’s record for transparency on the beginnings and spread of the virus is already in disrepute. Authorities gagged doctors, whistleblowers and journalists who attempted to break the news about the sickness.
If China had acted swiftly to contain the disease, it might have been able to reduce the spread of the virus around the world by as much as 95%, one study contended.