The Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic

Michael Worobey, Joshua I. Levy, Lorena Malpica Serrano, Alexander Crits-Christoph, Jonathan E. Pekar, Stephen A. Goldstein, Angela L. Rasmussen, Moritz U. G. Kraemer, Chris Newman, Marion P. G. Koopmans, Marc A. Suchard, Joel O. Wertheim, Philippe Lemey, David L. Robertson, Robert F. Garry, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Kristian G. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Understanding how severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in 2019 is critical to preventing future zoonotic outbreaks before they become the next pandemic. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, was identified as a likely source of cases in early reports, but later this conclusion became controversial. We show here that the earliest known COVID-19 cases from December 2019, including those without reported direct links, were geographically centered on this market. We report that live SARS-CoV-2–susceptible mammals were sold at the market in late 2019 and that within the market, SARS-CoV-2–positive environmental samples were spatially associated with vendors selling live mammals. Although there is insufficient evidence to define upstream events, and exact circumstances remain obscure, our analyses indicate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred through the live wildlife trade in China and show that the Huanan market was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-959
Number of pages9
Issue number6609
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2022


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