Phylogenetic Tree of Novel Coronavirus (hCoV-19) Covid-19

Covid Pedigree.png

I found this information about the phylogenetic tree of Covid-19 very interesting, in part, due to how rapidly this virus mutates.

Note that this tree was constructed with shared contributed information from just 333 samples, and that as of today, we know of 126,000+ confirmed cases, meaning that there are assuredly many more and this tree is a bare bones structure.

This tree and additional information can be viewed in various ways on this site.

Covid branching.png

Imagine how vast this tree would look if we could see the entire branching tree structure. This also explains the phenomenon of rapid viral mutation to either more or less virulent strains, and why “next year’s” vaccine will only be partially effective against a strain that was prevalent a few months earlier.

Let’s talk about mutations for a minute. We look at trees like this for the history of mankind or womankind over tens of thousands of years, not a 9 or 10 week timeline in the evolution of a virus.

If you look at that orange branch at about 5 o’clock, you can easily imagine that branch mutating to be nearly harmless, and the red branch at about 2 o’clock mutating to be even more deadly. It would be some time until we discovered that the different tree branches were behaving in different ways, and then even longer to determine how to harvest that information and distill it to be useful for prevention or cure.

I also found it very interesting to view the source of the various viral strains in the Americas on a GIS map.

Covid infection map.png

The strain in western Canada originated in Iran, as did the strain in New Zealand and one in Australia. Of course, the Iranian line originally came from China. Some infections in Australia came directly from China, as did most of the European pockets. South America and Mexico both arrived from Italy, as did many of the UK infections, although some appear to have passed through the Netherlands and Belgium first.

If you ever had any doubt in your mind about world being high interconnected, this should remove any question.

Take a few minutes and look at all of the informational options on this website. It’s wonderfully cool and is not limited to this outbreak.

I’ve updated my original article with additional resources as they’ve become available – in particular this “active case” map.

Keep yourself safe. Wash, limit social contact and hey, do some genealogy!



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20 thoughts on “Phylogenetic Tree of Novel Coronavirus (hCoV-19) Covid-19

  1. Truly amazing, thank you. I was aware from several months ago that the flu vaccine, based on last year’s mutation was not quite like this year’s, and so less effective. Every year’s vaccine is based on the previous year’s virus.

    Have you heard of anyone at RootsTech testing positive for COVID-19 ? A crowd such as attended would be banned as of today.

    • I have not heard of anyone there testing positive but remember that they still aren’t testing people who haven’t themselves traveled outside the US.

  2. WOW! That was amazingly helpful. Thanks for that fabulous migration map! Husband and I are self quarantined, 1 week so far – doubtful ours is Covid-19 as ours started with sore throats, but are watching ourselves and symptoms closely. The map is something I’d like to track. Do you think they will update the map so we can track it along with their updates?? We need groceries and step son called and told us our local grocery will deliver and are waiving the service charge.

  3. Yesterday I saw the article re: Scientists in Wash.State doing the genetic analysis of the few samples they had access to and tracking the “route” of local cases (i.e.Grand Princess / west coast–I live in CA). Couldn’t get anyone else in my family interested, but perhaps it was my “presentation”? Love seeing this graphic, makes me think of the spread of humanity in much earlier times. I find it fascinating (but I then don’t have the virus) thanks for sharing!

  4. Roberta,

    Wow you definitely put it in perspective for sure…yes definitely good time to do genealogy

  5. This is absolutely fascinating. So if I’m reading this right, it looks like the northern Italy strain (I have kin there) is somewhat different than the one currently known to be in the US. Amazing.

    • At least initially. Keep in mind though that the reason we don’t know more is the lack of testing here. Today, there are probably strains from all those places. I hope the map is updated.

  6. On March 12/20 (approx. 16:00 hours EST) that map is missing an active case reported in the media for over 24 hours for Ottawa, ON, Canada. It is our first confirmed case, an IT worker who was on a recent trip to Austria.

  7. wow…we were just talking about this an hour before I saw your article…Good work, you! Many many years ago I was with the Red Cross, working in Asia, and we understood where and how the viruses start -mostly in China- and mostly through migrating ducks and geese that were caught for food…but the sources can be almost any animal…the key is in how cleanly and carefully the food was processed….I recall there are about 250 different potential viruses living in the gullet of an average duck..,that means we could theoretically have a different virus spreading worldwide every year for 250 years. This was in the days before science could rely on DNA testing…..fascinating stuff! Your map and article made it all crystal clear. I am sharing it with everyone…Consider yourself hugged. And THANK YOU!.

    • Emily and I were discussing this issue earlier. Thank You for making the situation even more clearer by your charts. But why the run on “toilet paper” and “water.” Is our water supply in jeopardy too? Better I purchase more Dark Chocolate to calm my nerves and relax why I do my researching.

      💞 Ally n Cali

  8. Very interesting. A question: would recombination between pairs of viruses spoil the tree structure? Are we sure that the tree built out here is from viruses that only underwent mutation?

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