This conversation was led by Michael Worobey, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, and Lorena Malpica Serrano, PhD Student at the University of Arizona. What is known about the earliest COVID-19 cases, and what can be learned from them? Worobey and Malpica Serrano will discuss their work integrating epidemiological and genomic data to determine the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Their findings demonstrate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred through the wildlife trade, with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China as the outbreak’s epicenter. Phylodynamic analyses reveal at least two zoonotic transmission events and narrow the timeline of spillover. Maximum effort must now be applied to understanding the upstream events that brought SARS-CoV-2 to the Huanan market, and to limiting opportunities for future virus spillover.
- Worobey 2021, “Dissecting the early COVID-19 cases in Wuhan”
- Worobey et al. 2022, “The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic”
- Pekar et al. 2022, “The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2”