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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  <identifier identifierType="DOI">10.5281/zenodo.5202258</identifier>
  <creators>
    <creator>
      <creatorName>Chang, Whatsin Wu</creatorName>
      <givenName>Whatsin Wu</givenName>
      <familyName>Chang</familyName>
    </creator>
  </creators>
  <titles>
    <title>Wrong Side of the Yangtze River: Did a Map Mistake by the World Health Organization Contribute to Premature Conclusions About SARS2's Origin?</title>
  </titles>
  <publisher>Zenodo</publisher>
  <publicationYear>2021</publicationYear>
  <subjects>
    <subject>SARS-CoV-2 origin, SARS2 origin, China, Wuhan, Wuchang district, World Health Organization</subject>
  </subjects>
  <dates>
    <date dateType="Issued">2021-08-14</date>
  </dates>
  <language>en</language>
  <resourceType resourceTypeGeneral="JournalArticle"/>
  <alternateIdentifiers>
    <alternateIdentifier alternateIdentifierType="url">https://zenodo.org/record/5202258</alternateIdentifier>
  </alternateIdentifiers>
  <relatedIdentifiers>
    <relatedIdentifier relatedIdentifierType="DOI" relationType="IsVersionOf">10.5281/zenodo.5153949</relatedIdentifier>
  </relatedIdentifiers>
  <version>1.0</version>
  <rightsList>
    <rights rightsURI="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/legalcode">Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States</rights>
    <rights rightsURI="info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess">Open Access</rights>
  </rightsList>
  <descriptions>
    <description descriptionType="Abstract">&lt;p&gt;Did a map mistake about the location of the first published COVID-19 patient contribute to pre-mature conclusions about where SARS2&amp;ndash;the virus that causes COVID-19&amp;ndash;came from? This report explores that question.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;The World Health Organization recently acknowledged that the report it convened to study the origin of SARS2 featured several &amp;ldquo;unintended errors&amp;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&amp;rsquo;s maps. Subsequent to the error in that report, other researchers appear to have repeated the error in their maps and corresponding analysis.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;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?&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;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 &lt;em&gt;The Origins of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review&lt;/em&gt;, Holmes et al (2021):&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;&amp;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... &lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;The analysis in the current study proceeds by first providing context about the ongoing debate about the origin of SARS2.&amp;nbsp; That is followed by an analysis of maps from the World Health Organization&amp;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&amp;nbsp; each&amp;nbsp; map&amp;nbsp; uses&amp;nbsp; a&amp;nbsp; different&amp;nbsp; methodology&amp;nbsp; but&amp;nbsp; all&amp;nbsp; show&amp;nbsp; a&amp;nbsp; similar&amp;nbsp; pattern&amp;nbsp; for&amp;nbsp; the&amp;nbsp; progression of COVID-19 through Wuhan&amp;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.&amp;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.&lt;/p&gt;</description>
    <description descriptionType="Other">Added: Table of first patient characteristics reported by multiple independent sources. 

Corrected: Error that said Peter Daszak didn't sign the Lancet letter he organized - in fact he did.

Known error: The accountant Chen from Wuchang district was not the first published COVID case: https://twitter.com/franciscodeasis/status/1397227238764990469?</description>
  </descriptions>
</resource>
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