Journal article Open Access

Wrong Side of the Yangtze River: Did a Map Mistake by the World Health Organization Contribute to Premature Conclusions About SARS2's Origin?

Chang, Whatsin Wu

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  "publisher": "Zenodo", 
  "DOI": "10.5281/zenodo.5202258", 
  "language": "eng", 
  "title": "Wrong Side of the Yangtze River: Did a Map Mistake by the World Health Organization Contribute to Premature Conclusions About SARS2's Origin?", 
  "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
  "abstract": "<p>Did a map mistake about the location of the first published COVID-19 patient contribute to pre-mature conclusions about where SARS2&ndash;the virus that causes COVID-19&ndash;came from? This report explores that question.</p>\n\n<p>The World Health Organization recently acknowledged that the report it convened to study the origin of SARS2 featured several &ldquo;unintended errors&rdquo; about early COVID-19 patients. The errors include where the first published SARS2 patient lived at the time of diagnosis, and this error is apparent in the report&rsquo;s maps. Subsequent to the error in that report, other researchers appear to have repeated the error in their maps and corresponding analysis.</p>\n\n<p>This raises an intriguing question: did a map mistake in a report published by the World Health Organization cause the authors of that report and other researchers to draw premature conclusionsabout the origins of SARS-CoV-2?</p>\n\n<p>A specific example of where a premature conclusion appears to have been drawn by researchers who used the erroneous data that appeared in World Health Organization maps is this statement in <em>The Origins of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review</em>, Holmes et al (2021):</p>\n\n<p><em>&ldquo;Examination of the locations of early cases shows that most cluster around the Huanan market, located north of the Yangtze river (Fig. 1a-e)... There is no epidemiological link to any other locality in Wuhan... </em></p>\n\n<p>The analysis in the current study proceeds by first providing context about the ongoing debate about the origin of SARS2.&nbsp; That is followed by an analysis of maps from the World Health Organization&rsquo;s report on the origin of SARS2, as well as publicly available information and investigative reporting by Washington Post reporters about the location and characteristics of the first published COVID-19 patient. This study then reviews a series of heatmaps of COVID-19 infections in Wuhan, where&nbsp; each&nbsp; map&nbsp; uses&nbsp; a&nbsp; different&nbsp; methodology&nbsp; but&nbsp; all&nbsp; show&nbsp; a&nbsp; similar&nbsp; pattern&nbsp; for&nbsp; the&nbsp; progression of COVID-19 through Wuhan&rsquo;s districts, consistently showing that Wuchang district--not the district where the Huanan seafood market is located--was hottest with COVID-19 infections earliest.&nbsp; Finally, this report explores whether erroneous mapping of the first COVID-19 case contributed to premature conclusions about the origin of SARS2 and concludes by discussing research and public policy implications.</p>", 
  "author": [
      "family": "Chang, Whatsin Wu"
  "note": "Added: Table of first patient characteristics reported by multiple independent sources. \n\nCorrected: Error that said Peter Daszak didn't sign the Lancet letter he organized - in fact he did.\n\nKnown error: The accountant Chen from Wuchang district was not the first published COVID case:", 
  "version": "1.0", 
  "type": "article-journal", 
  "id": "5202258"
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