Battling global adversity over COVID-19, Chinese scientists are now arguing that the novel coronavirus originated in India in the summer of 2019.
A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences claimed that the deadly virus emerged by transferring from animals to humans via contaminated water before travelling unnoticed to Wuhan, where it was first detected, reported Daily mail.
It is not the first time that Chinese authorities have pointed the finger of blame elsewhere. Earlier, it blamed Italy and the United States, largely without evidence, for the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The researchers used phylogenetic analysis to trace the origins of COVID-19. Viruses, like all cells, mutate as they reproduce, meaning tiny changes occur in their DNA each time they replicate themselves. Therefore, it should be possible to track down the original version of the virus by finding the sample with the fewest mutations, they said.
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According to the report, the scientists further said that using this method rules out the virus found in Wuhan as the 'original' virus. They instead points to eight other countries: Bangladesh, the USA, Greece, Australia, India, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia or Serbia.
The blame comes against a backdrop of increased political tensions between India and China amid their border dispute in eastern Ladakh.
The unproven theory further said that from May to June 2019, the second-longest recorded heatwave had rampaged in northern-central India and Pakistan, which created a serious water crisis in this region.
The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other. This would have surely increased the chance of human-wild animal interactions, the researchers said, as they speculated that “the [animal to human] transmission of SARS-CoV-2 might be associated with this unusual heatwave.”
The claim, however, rejected by David Robertson, and expert from Glasgow University. He called the paper 'very flawed' and concluded 'it adds nothing to our understanding of coronavirus'.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.