Coronavirus may have been 'lying dormant outside China for a long time'

6 July 2020, 08:20

Dr Jefferson has called for a thorough investigation after the virus was found in sewage samples pre-dating the outbreak in China
Dr Jefferson has called for a thorough investigation after the virus was found in sewage samples pre-dating the outbreak in China. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Coronavirus may not have originated in China and could have actually been lying dormant around the world before being activated last year, an expert has said.

Dr Tom Jefferson has called for further investigation into the origin of the virus after evidence of COVID-19 was found in Spanish, Italian and Brazilian sewage samples that pre-date the Wuhan outbreak.

He said this could be evidence that the world had been living with a dormant virus for a long time, while it was waiting for favourable environmental conditions to ignite itself.

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Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the scientist said any investigation should specifically focus on why large concentrations of the virus have been found in sewage, and why it also seems to thrive in meatpacking plants.

He said: "There is a high concentration where sewage is four degrees, which is the ideal temperature for it to be stabled and presumably activated.

"And meatpacking plans are often at four degrees."

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Dr Jefferson then compared the outbreak to the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed 30% of the population of Western Samoa despite them having no communication with the outside world.

"The explanation could only be that these agents don't come or go anywhere.

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"They are always here and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should look for."

The doctor says he believes this school of thought should now be "investigated properly" as it could also lead to further breakthroughs on understanding other transmission routes.

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