A rise in internet searches for coronavirus symptoms in China shows the deadly bug could have hit as early as last summer.
Satellite data shows a spike in internet searches coupled with a surge in road traffic outside Wuhan hospitals at the end of last summer, which suggests people at the time could have contracted Covid-19.
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School, led by Dr John Brownstein, analysed commercial satellite imagery, reports Abc News.
Using the data, his team “observed a dramatic increase in hospital traffic outside five major Wuhan hospitals beginning late summer and early fall 2019.”
The beginning of coronavirus has been shrouded in mystery, however the study is seen as important new data in understanding the bug’s origin.
Dr Brownstein said: “Something was happening in October.
“Clearly, there was some level of social disruption taking place well before what was previously identified as the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
This is the latest research to suggest Covid-19 started even earlier than thought.
A few weeks ago the Daily Star reported on a bombshell study by scientists from the University of Cambridge, which cast doubt on previous beliefs about when and where Covid-19 first broke out.
While coronavirus was previously believed to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan at the end of last year, research suggests it may have actually came from further south – and began spreading among humans as early as September 2019.
The team of researchers has published its extraordinary findings – which have yet to be peer-reviewed – in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outlining a “network” of infections that has thrown existing knowledge into doubt.
“The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals,” University of Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster said.
“Then, it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the journal] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].”