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Travel was a major factor with coronavirus spread

New research finds that early interventions undertaken in most parts of Europe and the U.S. were effective at reducing coronavirus infections. yet in certain areas there was a viral spread. These networks for transmission are drawn out from epidemiological models coupled with travel records.

The types of data analyzed included flight records and the total number of COVID-19 cases collated from various global regions in January and February 2020. More detailed information about different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were also added into the analysis, such as comparing the different genomes of virus sampled from infected individuals. A focus was with determining the extent to which these viral samples were related to each other (what is known as phylogenetics).

As an example, the researchers have shown how the dispersal of the virus from China to the U.S. was via British Columbia, Canada, located just north of Washington State. After some viral infection cases were established in Canada, sometime around February 1, 2020, it then spread from Canada to the U.S. This challenges earlier theories that the main infections were originated from a Chinese national flying into Seattle from Wuhan, China.

With Europe, the data analysis suggests that the origin was on January 20, 2020,when a businessman working for an automotive supply company in Bavaria, Germany, flew in for a business meeting from Shanghai, China.

The findings into these sustained transmission networks can offer clues for fighting a second wave of viral transmission or for when a new health threat emerges. This is based on the strength of the model, which is based on computer programs that are capable of simulating the complex epidemiology and evolution of the coronavirus.

The research has been published in the journal Science, with the paper titled “The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe and North America.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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