Evolutionary biologist, Dr. Michael Worobey, an expert in virus evolution, conducted a lengthy research to find the first COVID case to be a bit later than earlier reported by World Health Organization (WHO). His research included long accounts of journal papers, interviews from the first patients reported, and other medical records to help his research.

WHO had identified and reported a 41-year-old accountant, by the name of Mr. Chin, to be the first COVID case in Wuhan, which eventually became the one behind the spread. Instead, Dr. Michael Worobey has concluded a woman, seafood vendor to be specific, who worked at the animal market in the city, to be the first case. The incident of her infection took place 3 days after the initial date recorded by WHO, which was December 8.

“I have spent the last few months trying to poke holes in the hypothesis of a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 by asking: Was the apparent preponderance of early cases linked to Huanan Market real or just a mirage because that is where people were looking for cases?” writes Dr. Michael Worobey, detailing his research in different posts, and engaging with people who are considering it less than credible.

He addressed a New York Times article in particular stating, “I am concerned about anti-scientific comments like this that reflect a desire to downplay, denigrate, or dismiss evidence that doesn’t suit the desires of advocates of a particular hypothesis (in David’s case, the lab leak hypothesis).” This was in direct response to microbiologist, David Relman’s, comment saying, “It is based on fragmentary information and to a large degree, hearsay,” regarding Worobey’s research.

“There is enough of this sort of “I’ll-believe-what-I-want-to-believe-in-the-face-of-all-evidence-to-the-contrary” going around these days for it not to leak further into scientific discourse,” says Michael Worobey, adding, “More concerning is a strain of bias, also present in other leading proponents of lab leak scenarios such as @Ayjchan, where first-hand comments by Chinese doctors, scientists and, apparently COVID-19 patients, are easily and dismissed as lies or, here, “hearsay”.”

He pursues further saying, “To deride and dismiss the accounts of these individuals as hearsay is beyond disrespectful.” There have been previous researches claiming the virus originated from an animal, but this particular account cements it even further. Dr. Michael Worobey continues to put emphasis on “provides strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic.”