New Delhi: Genetic sample collected from a Chinese market where the first human case of Covid-19 was identified show DNA of raccoon dog comingled with the virus, suggesting the pandemic is likely to have originated from animals and not a laboratory, news agency AP reported.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
Other experts are yet to verify the analysis which is to appear for peer-review.
According to reports, the samples were collected from Huanan seafood market in Wuhan in early 2020, where the first human case of Covid-19 were found.
The WHO chief further criticised China for not sharing the genetic information earlier, telling a press conference that “this data could have and should have been shared three years ago.”
According to Tedros, the genetic sequences were recently uploaded on the world’s biggest public virus database by the scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
They were then removed, however, a French biologist spotted the information by chance and shared it with a group of scientists based outside China that’s working on a research to look into the origins of the coronavirus.
As per the data, some of the Covid positive samples collected from a stall, known to be involved in wildlife trade, also contained genes of raccoon dog, indicating the animals may have been infected by the virus. Their analysis was first reported in The Atlantic.
“There’s a good chance that the animals that deposited that DNA also deposited the virus,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who was involved in analysing the data. “If you were to go and do environmental sampling in the aftermath of a zoonotic spillover event … this is basically exactly what you would expect to find.”
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