Coronavirus may not have originated in China after all, but was instead lying dormant in different parts of the world until environmental conditions allowed for its emergence, an expert has suggested.
Dr Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), has highlighted a number of recent discoveries showing the virus’s presence around the world before it emerged in Asia.
It comes amid growing evidence that Covid-19 is, in fact, a global organism that was awaiting favourable conditions to finally emerge.
Traces of the disease have been found in sewage samples from Spain, Italy and Brazil which pre-date its discovery in China.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Jefferson has called for an investigation into how and why the virus seems to thrive in environments such as food factories and meatpacking plants.
Along with CEBM director Professor Carl Heneghan, Dr Jefferson believes this could potentially uncover new transmission routes, such as through the sewage system or shared toilet facilities.
He told the paper: “Strange things like this happened with Spanish Flu. In 1918, around 30 per cent of the population of Western Samoa died of Spanish Flu and they hadn’t had any communication with the outside world.
“The explanation could only be that these agents don’t come or go anywhere. They are always here and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should look for.
“There is quite a lot of evidence of huge amounts of the virus in sewage all over the place, and an increasing amount of evidence there is faecal transmission.
“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 plants are often at four degrees.
“These outbreaks need to be investigated properly.”