Tags: Coronavirus | New York | Asia | Europe | NYC

Research Suggests Most New York Coronavirus Cases Came From Europe

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(Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2020 02:10 PM

New scientific studies indicate that a majority of New York’s coronavirus cases were brought in by travelers from Europe, not Asia.

Research shows the virus was already circulating in the state by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, The New York Times reports. 

Research teams of genome scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and at NYU Grossman School of Medicine have been looking into genomes from coronaviruses taken from New Yorkers starting in mid-March.

Despite conducting separate studies, both teams have come up with similar results. 

“The majority is clearly European,” Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who co-authored a study awaiting peer review, told the newspaper.

President Donald Trump banned foreign nationals from entering the country on Jan. 31 if they had been in China during the prior two weeks. Travel restrictions from Europe happened weeks later. 

The studies show that a previously hidden spread of the virus may have been detected if aggressive testing programs had been implemented. 

Dr. Adriana Heguy, a member of the NYU research team, told the New York Times her team found that some New York viruses shared unique mutations not found elsewhere. 

“That’s when you know you’ve had a silent transmission for a while,” she said. 

She estimates the virus began circulating in New York a couple of months ago.

The Mount Sinai researchers took samples from COVID-19 patients at their hospital and began sequencing the genomes.

Genome sequencing works by studying how a virus is spread around the world by looking at small mutations in a gene sequence of the pathogen as it is transmitted from person to person. 

Dr. Ana Silvia Gonzalez-Reiche, a member of the Mount Sinai team, said the viruses they found were nearly identical to the viruses found around Europe.

While the researchers can't identify what particular flight on which a particular virus arrived in New York, they concluded that the viruses reveal “a period of untracked global transmission between late January to mid-February.”

The Mount Sinai team say they have identified seven separate lineages of viruses that entered New York and they expect to find more. 

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New scientific studies indicate that a majority of New York's coronavirus cases were brought in by travelers from Europe, not Asia. Research shows the virus was already circulating in the state by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, The New York Times...
New York, Asia, Europe, NYC
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2020-10-09
Thursday, 09 April 2020 02:10 PM
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