Data from Wuhan animal market yields clues about origins
LONDON: Data from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, briefly uploaded to a global database by Chinese scientists, gives crucial information on the outbreak’s origins, including on an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, researchers said.
The virus was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019, with many suspecting the Huanan live animal market to be the source, before spreading around the world and killing nearly 7 million people.
The scientists published a pre-print report based on their interpretation of the data on Monday, after leaks in the media last week and a meeting with the World Health Organisation, which has urged China to release more information.
The data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer available on the GISAID database where it was found by the scientists.
It comprised new sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and additional genomic data based on samples taken from the 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 body of evidence identifying the Huanan market as the spillover location of Sars-CoV-2 and the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the report.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023