Evolutionary biologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have compared small differences in the genome of different samples of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and found that this pathogen first entered the human population on December 17 of last year or in neighboring days. The results of their calculations were published in an article published in the electronic scientific library bioRxiv.
"The genomes of the viruses were very similar to each other, and they have not yet diverged so much, which suggests that this outbreak is just beginning. Our calculations show that it began about 32 days before the last sample of 2019 was collected. -nCoV, which happened on January 18, "the researchers write.
Mei Wang and Chi Zhang, biologists at the CAS Advanced Center for Life Sciences and Paleoecology in Beijing, China, came to this conclusion after comparing more than two dozen decoded genomes of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus extracted from biomaterial samples collected from Hubei, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces between December 24, 2019 and January 18, 2020.
Scientists have counted the number of small mutations in the coronavirus genome that arose during its spread across the PRC, and used statistical methods used in the study of evolutionary processes to calculate the time of 2019-nCoV appearance and reveal the dynamics of its spread.
These calculations showed that the virus had almost no time to change during this time, despite the large geography of its spread. This suggests that the outbreak is still in its early stages of development and that it started around mid-December. In addition, Chinese evolutionists have confirmed the claims of other scientific groups that 2019-nCoV is spreading at a fairly high rate before the start of the fight against this outbreak of coronavirus.
Analysis of subsequent samples of the virus genome, biologists hope, will help them clarify this parameter and understand how it has changed in recent days after the introduction of quarantine in Wuhan and other cities where outbreaks have been recorded. This, in turn, is critical for the development of further measures to combat 2019-nCoV.