New research suggests that the strain of coronavirus that is taking hold in NY and other parts of the United States that aren't on the west coast originated in Europe and not China, where the virus was first discovered late a year ago.
Dr. Adriana Heguy, a member of a team at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine studying the genomes of coronaviruses in city patients, told the New York Times that early discoveries indicate that the virus was in the city long before a Manhattan woman in her thirties became the city's first official patient on March 1.
Dr Harm van Bakel, a geneticist and co-author of the Icahn School's study, told the Times: 'The majority is clearly European'.
The researchers concluded that multiple independent cases of coronavirus arrived in New York City primarily from Europe and other regions of the USA like Seattle, Washington.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge also published a recent study that said three distinct strains of the coronavirus have developed, with each strain affecting different parts of the world. President Trump closed off most travel from China on January 31 but did not restrict foreigners coming from Europe until March 11.
The first confirmed case in NY came on March 1 and around two weeks later new infections began to soar. Travel restrictions from Europe happened weeks later.
While the researchers can't identify what particular flight on which a particular virus arrived in NY, they concluded that the viruses reveal "a period of untracked global transmission between late January to mid-February".
MI now reporting COVID-19 recoveries
As many as 5,023 Detroit residents have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday, with 193 deaths. Behind the New York Metropolitan area, Detroit is the worst hit region in the country for COVID-19.
Both teams separately concluded that the hidden spread of the virus could have been discovered had aggressive testing measured been put into place much earlier.
For example, scientists will eventually seek to learn whether some strains lead to less or more serious forms of the disease than others, and this could inform targeted treatments.
At least eight strains of the virus are being tracked by researchers around the world, using genetic detective work to show how the virus spreads.
The world first heard about the virus in December, when it remained confined to China and mostly in the epicenter of Wuhan. Businesses that remain open continue to encourage social distancing, which health experts say is in the early stages of showing results, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As of April 8, the coronavirus has infected more than 435,000 in the USA, and almost 15,000 people have died.
The findings also stand substantiated with a slew of mysterious pneumonia cases that NY physicians were treating before large scale testing began in the city.