The Raccoon Dog is suspected of being the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo/Slate
GENEVA – A recent data shows if the virus Covid-19 not from a laboratory leak but from an animal. But the animal in question is not a bat as previously believed.
Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human case of Covid-19 was identified showed raccoon dog DNA mixed with the virus.
“This data does not provide a definitive answer about how the pandemic started, but each piece of data is important to get us closer to that answer,” said Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as quoted from Al Arabiya, Sunday (19/3/2023) .
How the coronavirus appeared is still unclear. Many scientists believe it most likely passed from animals to humans, like many other viruses in the past, at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. But Wuhan is home to several laboratories involved in collecting and studying the coronavirus, fueling a theory scientists think is plausible that the virus may have leaked from one lab.
The new findings don’t resolve the question, and they haven’t been formally reviewed by other experts or published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Tedros criticized China for not sharing genetic information beforehand, telling a press conference that this data could and should have been shared three years ago.
Samples were collected from surfaces at the Huanan seafood market in early 2020 in Wuhan, where the first human cases of Covid-19 were discovered in late 2019.
Tedros said the genetic sequence was recently uploaded to the world’s largest public virus database by scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
They were later deleted, but not before a French biologist spotted the information by chance and shared it with a group of scientists based outside China investigating the origins of the coronavirus.
The data showed that some Covid-positive samples collected from a stall known to be involved in the wildlife trade also contained the raccoon dog gene, indicating that the animal may have been infected with the virus, according to scientists. Their analysis was first reported in The Atlantic.
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