Coronavirus was carried into the Earth’s atmosphere on a fragment of comet which spewed out “hundreds of trillions” of viral particles. Medics fear the disease, which can be spread before victims show any symptoms, could spark a global pandemic. The emergence of the new strain of coronavirus is thought to be the result of panspermia – infective agents in space which eventually reach the Earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists have long held that viruses, bacteria and strands of DNA exists in space carried on comets and meteorites.
They can drift into the Earth’s stratosphere before falling to the surface of the planet posing a risk to human health, they say.
The emergence of the novel coronavirus is thought to be the result of a specific meteorite hit recorded in China last autumn.
Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, said: “The sudden outbreak of a new coronavirus is very likely to have a space connection, the strong localisation of the virus within China is the most remarkable aspect of the disease.
“In October last year a fragment of a comet exploded in a brief flash in North East China.
“We think it probable that this contained embedded within it a monoculture of infective 2019-nCoV virus particles that survived in the interior of the incandescent meteor.
“We consider the seemingly outrageous possibility that hundreds of trillions of infective viral particles were then released embedded in the form of fine carbonaceous dust.
“We believe infectious agents are prevalent in space, carried on comets, and can fall towards Earth through the troposphere.