A team of 18 international scientists claim that the most likely source of the COVID-19 outbreak was the sale of wild animals at the southwestern side of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

There is a mountain of circumstantial evidence that is very unlikely to exist without the markets at the epicenter of the outbreak.

There were 174 people who caught the disease in the early days of the outbreak. The locations of 155 of those people were found in the report.

Most of the 155 people who were studied lived near the west bank of the Yangtze River, where the markets are located. The market had a lot of cases.

The researchers found that people living in the same age group with the same infections lived close to the market.

Before January 2020, 66 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had direct exposure to the market.

People who didn't have direct contact with the markets tended to live closer to the markets than people who did.

People living close to the markets might be at greater risk than people living further out in the city. The data shows that people living far away are more likely to catch COVID-19 if they go to the markets or work there.

The researchers say that the observation that a lot of early cases had no known epidemiological link had previously been used as an argument against the epicenter of the epidemic.

"However, this group of cases resided closer to the market than those who worked there, indicating that they had been exposed to the virus at the market."

The Science/CC BY is from worobey et al.

Around the time of the first COVID-19 cases in humans, live exotic animals were on sale at the market.

The Chinese authorities took 585 environmental samples from the market in January 2020 after no animals were tested for the disease.

The international research team mapped out exactly where the positive samples were taken and where the people were most likely to get the disease.

The southwest corner of the market was where the live mammals that can carry coronaviruses were sold.

The researchers say that five of the environmental samples were taken from a single stall.

The western side of the market is where mammal species are also sold.

There were positive samples taken from cages, carts, and freezers.

Stephen Goldstein, a geneticist at the University of Utah, is one of the authors of the study.

The first cases of the disease were linked to the wild animal sales at the Huanan Market.

The Science/CC BY is from worobey et al.

With over six million deaths and 572 million infections worldwide, there's a strong desire by governments to find out how the disease started.

Over the past few years, the WHO has conducted investigations in China, but the results have not been conclusive due to a lack of data.

Most scientists agree that the introduction of the disease to humans by wild animals was the leading hypothesis.

President Joe Biden ordered a report on the origins of COVID-19 by the National Intelligence Council after a theory that the virus accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology came to light.

The report states that COVID-19 was probably not genetically engineered and that it was not developed as a biological weapon.

The study was published in a scientific journal.