Chinese COVID Data From Animal Market Hints At Origin – Report

LONDON, March 21 – Data from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, briefly uploaded to a global database by Chinese scientists, provides crucial information about the origins of the outbreak, including an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. said researchers.

The virus was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019, with many suspecting the Huanan live animal market as the source, before spreading around the world and killing nearly 7 million people.

The scientists released a pre-print report on Monday based on their interpretation of the data, following media leaks last week and a meeting with the World Health Organization, which urged China to release more information.

The data from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer available in the GISAID database, where the scientists found it.

It included new sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and additional genomic data based on samples taken at a live animal market in Wuhan in 2020, according to the scientists who accessed it.

The sequences showed that raccoon dogs and other animals susceptible to the coronavirus were present in the market and may have been infected, providing a new clue in the chain of transmission that eventually reached humans, they said.

“This adds to the evidence identifying the Huanan market as a spillover site of Sars-CoV-2 and an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

It was written by authors including Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Florence D├ębarre of Sorbonne University in Paris, France, who accessed the data.

Compared to last week’s leaked information, the report adds more details on other animals on the market, showing that some of the SARS-CoV-2 positive environmental samples contained more animal genetic material than human genetic material, which the researchers said this is compatible with the infection of the animals.

WHO officials said last week the information was inconclusive but constituted a new lead in the investigation into the origins of COVID and should have been shared immediately.

The UN agency has previously said all hypotheses for the origin of COVID-19 remain on the table, including that the virus originated in a high-security laboratory in Wuhan that studies dangerous pathogens.

China denies any such connection. The WHO has also said that most of the evidence points to the virus originating from animals, likely bats.

The Chinese CDC was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Jennifer Rigby and Natalie Grover; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jennifer Rigby

Thomson Reuters

Jen reports on health issues affecting people around the world, from malaria to malnutrition. As part of the Health & Pharma team, recent notable articles include an investigation into health care for young transgender people in the UK, as well as stories of the rise in measles after COVID hit routine vaccination and efforts to prevent the next pandemic. Previously she worked at the Telegraph newspaper and Channel 4 News in the UK and freelanced in Myanmar and the Czech Republic.

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