Exactly two years ago, on January 9, 2020, the first person officially confirmed to be infected with the new coronavirus, previously unknown, died in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then, nearly 304 million SARS-CoV-2 infections and nearly 5.5 million deaths from COVID-19 patients have been reported worldwide.
Chinese media announced, the death of a patient with “pneumonia of unknown origin” two days after its occurrence, on January 11, 2020. According to them, a 61-year-old man was regularly shopping at Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan and was suffering from comorbidities. He died on January 9 of respiratory failure.
At that time, the Chinese Health Commission reports 41 cases of the new virus, spread in Wuhan since December 2019. Outside this city, no infection has yet been detected, most patients have been linked to Huanan Market, and the Chinese authorities have not found conclusive evidence of transmission of the virus From person to person.
However, according to confidential government documents obtained by the Hong Kong daily “South China Morning Post”, there were already 266 confirmed cases of the new disease in China by the end of 2019. No “patient zero” was found, but according to this data The first person fell ill on November 17.
The first case of coronavirus outside China was reported on January 13 in Thailand. It was soon also detected in Japan and South Korea, and on January 21 the first infection was confirmed in the United States. The first death outside China was recorded in the Philippines on February 2, and the deceased had been in Wuhan shortly before that.
In China, the virus was mainly contained in the spring of 2020 with the help of very severe lockdowns, but the pathogen was already spreading around the world by then, and two years later it is still infecting and killing people. According to data compiled by the Worldometer service, by Saturday, there were nearly 5.5 million deaths and 303.9 million infections.
In China, the official death toll has not changed for several months at 4,636, the vast majority of which were reported in Wuhan. And China, almost from the beginning of the epidemic, published data on only asymptomatic cases of infection with the Corona virus, which hid the scale of its development.
In the list of countries with the highest number of confirmed deaths after two years, the United States is nearly 837,000. It is followed by Brazil (620 thousand), India (483 thousand) and Russia (315 thousand). and Mexico (300,000) – according to the Our World in Data platform.
The largest number of officially confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 per million inhabitants was recorded in Peru – more than six thousand.
More than 4,000 deaths per million inhabitants have also been reported in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary.
In Montenegro, North Macedonia, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania – more than three thousand per million inhabitants.
pandemic in Africa
African countries are many of the countries with the fewest deaths per capita, and scientists question why the epidemic has relatively escaped Africa, especially the sub-Saharan part of it, so far. Altogether, the continent has fewer than 168 deaths per million inhabitants, with countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania only having 15.
In this context, experts point to the fact that societies in sub-Saharan Africa in general are much younger than European or American societies, and that aging is a significant risk factor for the acute course of COVID-19. Older Africans are also less likely than their peers in Europe to live in elderly care centers, where infection may be rampant. Declining balance sheets could also be due to inadequacies in the health service and a lack of testing.
Two years after the first officially recorded death, the genesis of the epidemic remains a mystery, and it is not known whether it will ever be resolved. In addition to the hypothesis about the natural transmission of the virus from animals to humans, the second is considered – the leakage of the pathogen from the laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), one of the largest research centers on bat viruses, located tens of kilometers from the Huanan market.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities argue that while COVID-19 was first diagnosed in Wuhan, the coronavirus itself does not necessarily come from China. They flatly reject the lab leak theory and say the virus may have reached China on imported frozen food. They also point to research indicating that it was spreading around the world even before it was discovered in Wuhan.
Chinese state-owned media reported speculation about the dates of the first cases and deaths in the United States. They also report the findings of a team of Italian scientists that a 4-year-old boy from Milan was infected in November 2019, and the virus itself could spread in Italy as early as September. In turn, Barcelona researchers said they detected the coronavirus in samples from municipal wastewater in March 2019.
A joint mission of Chinese and foreign scientists under the auspices of the World Health Organization worked in Wuhan in early 2021, but did not find a clear answer to the question about the origins of the epidemic. The World Health Organization set up a new team and presented a plan for the next stage of the research, but it was rejected by the Chinese authorities, who do not want further investigation in their country and argue that it should now be conducted elsewhere.
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