「Analysis of hospital traffic and search engine data in Wuhan China indicates early disease activity in the Fall of 2019」
The global COVID-19 pandemic was originally linked to a zoonotic spillover event in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market in November or December of 2019. However, recent evidence suggests that the virus may have already been circulating at the time of the outbreak. Here we use previously validated data streams - satellite imagery of hospital parking lots and Baidu search queries of disease related terms - to investigate this possibility. We observe an upward trend in hospital traffic and search volume beginning in late Summer and early Fall 2019. While queries of the respiratory symptom “cough” show seasonal fluctuations coinciding with yearly influenza seasons, “diarrhea” is a more COVID-19 specific symptom and only shows an association with the current epidemic. The increase of both signals precede the documented start of the COVID-19 pandemic in December, highlighting the value of novel digital sources for surveillance of emerging pathogens
「China, scientists dismiss Harvard study suggesting COVID-19 was spreading in Wuhan in August」
LONDON (Reuters) - Beijing dismissed as “ridiculous” a Harvard Medical School study of hospital traffic and search engine data that suggested the new coronavirus may already have been spreading in China last August, and scientists said it offered no convincing evidence of when the outbreak began.
The research, which has not been peer-reviewed by other scientists, used satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan - where the disease was first identified in late 2019 - and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as “cough” and “diarrhoea”.
The study’s authors said increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan preceded the documented start of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019.