A frozen food fallacy? The coronavirus origin story that doesn't stack up

Scant evidence exists to suggest frozen food can lead to COVID-19 infections, but the WHO researchers investigating the origins of the virus say it warrants further investigation.


Jackson Ryan, C|Net

Feb. 16, 2021


When a cluster of coronavirus cases appeared in Qingdao in October 2020, local health authorities scrambled to test 11 million residents of the Chinese seaport in just five days. The extensive tracing efforts led them back to two dock workers who had been infected with COVID-19 in late September.


It was never confirmed how the workers became infected, but the Chinese Centers for Disease Control revealed it was able to detect genetic traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on imported frozen cod packages at the docks. It did not state where the imports had been shipped from, but the agency announced in October that this "proved" contact with contaminated packaging could lead to COVID-19.


It was a suggestion at odds with the rest of the world. The US Food and Drug Administration, Australia and New Zealand's Food Standards board and Europe's Food Safety Authority all concluded there is little to no evidence showing SARS-CoV-2 can infect individuals via food packaging. But on Feb. 9, at a press conference detailing findings from a joint WHO and China investigation in Wuhan, the frozen food theory became embroiled in the most controversial and politically loaded question of the pandemic: Where did the coronavirus come from?


Over the past year, two parallel theories have emerged to explain COVID-19's appearance...


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