To say that you’ve revealed the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2 without ever actually testing it isn’t the type of thing that makes me feel comfortable as a scientist.” She and other virologists I’ve spoken with who were not involved in the Los Alamos research agree that the paper’s claims are plausible, but not justified by the evidence it presents. More important, they’re not convinced different strains of the coronavirus exist at all.
The first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, were reported in December, 2019 in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the disease originated in or around Wuhan.
41 cases of COVID-19 were reported to local health authorities in Wuhan, during December 16, 2019 to January, 2020. The clinical features of these patients were reported in this study in the journal Lancet, in February, 2020:
The emergence of the novel human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China has caused a worldwide epidemic of respiratory disease (COVID-19). Vaccines and targeted therapeutics for treatment of this disease are currently lacking. Here we report a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 (and SARS-CoV) in cell culture. This cross-neutralizing antibody targets a communal epitope on these viruses and may offer potential for prevention and treatment of COVID-19.