London [UK], March 22: Researchers said that 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 an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019, with many suspecting the Huanan live animal market to be the source of a disease thatkilled 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 WHO, which has urged China to release more information.
The data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer available on the GISAID database where the scientists found it.According to the scientists who accessed it, it comprised new sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and additional genomic data based on samples taken from the live animal market in 2020.The sequences showed that raccoon dogs and other animals susceptible to the virus were present in the market and may have been infected, providing a new clue in the chain of transmission, 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.It was written by authors including the University of Arizona's Michael Worobey, Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Florence Debarre at the Sorbonne University in Paris, who accessed the data.
In comparison to the leaked information last week, the report adds detail about other animals present at the market, as well as showing that some of the SARS-CoV-2 positive environmental samples had more animal than human. WHO officials said that the information was not conclusive but did represent a new lead into COVID's origins, and should have been shared.
Source: Qatar Tribune