Israeli scientists have determined from which countries the coronavirus arrived in the Jewish state, and the overwhelming majority of infections originated from the United States.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University managed to decode the genomic sequencing of COVID-19, enabling them to accurately trace the spread of the virus from abroad into the State of Israel, and from locality to locality within the state.
What they found was that about 70 percent of the Corona infection chains originated from the US, as reported by TPS.
Nearly all of the remaining 30 percent of infection chains originated from various European countries. Very few actually came directly to Israel from China and the Far East.
Of course, all of the coronavirus chains first originated from China, and the Israeli research confirmed this.
Israel initially hesitated to bar air traffic from the United States, and even weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, planes from New York were still landing at Ben Gurion Airport and returning Israelis were freely traveling home on public transportation. This has since been identified as one of the more serious missteps in Israel’s otherwise successful response to the pandemic.
Dr. Adi Stern of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology at the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University explained that the coronavirus is characterized by a rhythmic accumulation of mutations. These mutations do not affect the virus, which means that it remains stable and its violence does not change, but these mutations make it possible to trace the chain of infection from one country to another.
For example, at the beginning of the epidemic in China, one to two mutations were added. One virus with one such mutation migrated to Europe and accumulated more mutations, and from there to the US.
“The mutations are a type of barcode that allows tracking from one country to another,” she said.
The researchers compared the genomic sequences found among patients in Israel to 4,700 genomic sequences from different countries in the world, thus obtaining the full picture of the chain of infection into Israel and within Israel.
The study identified a cluster of patients in whom the genome was 100% identical, meaning that much of the epidemic in Israel is the result of patients who are “super-spreaders” and who contributed to the mass infection.
The study is based on the analysis of genomic sequences of over 200 patients in Israel, and on a geographical layout of Israeli hospitals, which together constitute a representative sample of the entire population of the country.
With reporting by the Tazpit Press Service (TPS)