Data released by China suggests COVID-19 virus could come from raccoon dogs and ‘strengthens’ Wuhan wet market theory

Raccoon dogs are small foxy animals native to East Asia.Getty Images

  • Newly released genetic data from Wuhan found raccoon dog DNA mixed with the COVID-19 virus.

  • WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has criticized China for not sharing the data sooner.

  • Since the first COVID-19 death in Wuhan on January 11, 2020, the virus has killed 6,873,477 people worldwide.

Newly released genetic data from the wet market near where scientists discovered the first human cases of COVID-19 showed raccoon dog DNA mixed with the virus.

According to The Atlantic, one of the first outlets to report the findings, data from late 2019 — when the first COVID-19 cases began to emerge — shows that some of the COVID-positive samples collected from a stall known to be involved in the wildlife trade they also contained raccoon dog genes.

This suggests the virus may have infected the animals, according to the scientists.

The data has not been formally reviewed or published in a peer-reviewed journal, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said She said the data doesn’t provide “a definitive answer to how the pandemic started, but every piece of data is important in getting us closer to that answer.”

A 61-year-old man was the first person in China to die from what we know today as COVID-19.

A 61-year-old man was the first person in China to die from what we know today as COVID-19.NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

However, international health experts said this finding adds credence to the theory that the COVID-19 virus came from animals rather than a laboratory leak.

Wuhan Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which also sold exotic game and wild animals, has been the focus of scientific suspicion as the original source of COVID-19.

The Chinese team collected environmental samples from the Wuhan Huanan seafood wholesale market, according to Florence Débarre, a theorist who specializes in evolutionary biology and works at the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, or CNRS, a research agency French national team unearthed the data, according to Science.

Speaking to Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at Scripps Research who analyzed the data, he said “the data points even more to a market origin.”

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist involved in the research, told The Atlantic that “this is a really strong indication that the animals at the market have been infected.”

“This really strengthens the case for a natural origin,” said Seema Lakdawala, a virologist at Emory University.

The DNA comes from raccoon dogs, small foxy animals native to East Asia.

This data isn’t new, but the genetic sequence was recently uploaded to the global GISAID database by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and later removed, Ghebreyesus said.

While it was online, the scientists downloaded and began analyzing the data.

Tedros criticized China for not sharing the data sooner. “This data could and should have been shared three years ago,” he said She said.

“We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share findings. Understanding how the pandemic started remains both a moral and a scientific imperative,” Tedros said. added.

This is just the latest example of the Chinese government’s refusal to share data with other nations.

Since the first COVID-19 death, recorded in Wuhan, China on January 11, 2020, the virus has killed 6,873,477 people worldwide, according to WHO data.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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