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China releases genome of virus that caused Beijing outbreak, saying it could be linked to Europe

China releases genome of virus that caused Beijing outbreak, saying it could be linked to EuropeChina has released the genetic sequence of the coronavirus believed to have caused Beijing's new outbreak, saying it could be linked to strains that originated in Europe. Data released by government researchers suggest the virus is an older version than the one currently infecting Europe, giving credence to the idea that it had been lurking for a while – possibly as early as May – before erupting in a wholesale food market in Beijing last week. Many traces of the virus were found at Xinfadi market, which "indicates it has been around for some time", said Zhang Yong, an assistant director at China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, adding: "If it had only been present in the city for a short time, there may not have been so many positive samples found." Outside experts, however, have pushed back on China's claims. Genetic virus data that allows for comparing the number of mutations is not enough "to confidently assign a geographic origin to the lineage. They could have originated from essentially anywhere", Francois Balloux, the director of the UCL Genetics Institute, wrote online. At best, he said, "proper analysis may allow for some 'educated guesses' for a plausible geographic source".




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