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Data released by China suggests the COVID-19 virus may have originated from raccoon dogs, “reinforcing” the Wuhan wet market theory

Raccoon dogs are small vampire animals native to East Asia

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

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

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

  • 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 has shown DNA from raccoon dogs is mixed with the virus.

According to The Atlantic, one of the first outlets to report the results, data from late 2019 – when the first COVID-19 cases emerged – shows that some of the COVID-positive samples obtained from a known booth are known involved in the wildlife trade also contained raccoon dog genes.

According to the scientists, this indicates that the virus could have infected the animals.

The data has not been officially reviewed or published in a peer-reviewed journal, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has done so called The data “does not provide a definitive answer as to how the pandemic began, but each and every piece of data is important in bringing us closer to that answer.”

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

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

However, international health experts have said that this finding lends credibility to the theory that the COVID-19 virus originated from animals and not a lab leak.

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

According to Florence D├ębarre, a theorist specializing in evolutionary biology who works at the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, or CNRS, a French national research agency, the Chinese team collected environmental samples at the Wuhan-Huanan seafood wholesale market, according to Science.

Speaking to Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at Scripps Research who analyzed the data, he said that “the data points even further to market origins.”

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist involved in the research, told Atlantic that “this is a really strong indication that animals at the market were 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 vulture animals native to East Asia.

This data is not new, but the genetic sequence was recently uploaded to the global GISAID database by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and later removed, Ghebreyesus said.

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

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

“We continue to urge China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results. There remains both a moral and scientific imperative to understand how the pandemic began,” Tedros said added.

This is just the latest example of the Chinese government refusing 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 the WHO.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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