Raccoon dog data gives clues to origin of COVID – but no definitive answer – POLITICO

New Chinese data on genetic samples taken from China’s Wuhan market in 2020 does not provide a definitive answer as to how the COVID-19 pandemic began, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. ), following media reports that data links the origins of the pandemic to raccoon dogs in the market.

The data in question was uploaded to the international virus database GISAID by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in January, according to the WHO, but hastily deleted following questions from international scientists. However, an analysis of the data by a team of international researchers, first reported by the Atlantic on Thursday, found that samples containing coronavirus also contained genetic material from animals, including raccoon dogs. This has led to suggestions that raccoon dogs sold on the market may carry the virus.

The WHO, which only learned of the data over the weekend, was bombarded with questions about the significance of the new findings at a press conference on Friday.

Their response ? We need more data to have a definitive answer on the origins of the pandemic. What the data show is molecular evidence that animals were sold in the market and that some animals there were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, WHO COVID technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said. “Unfortunately, this doesn’t give us the answer on how the pandemic started, but it does give us more clues,” she said. Instead, she called for more study.

The latest twist in the leak of information about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the difficulties the WHO has had in accessing data, especially from China.

“This data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data, to conduct necessary investigations and to share results.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify that the data was uploaded in January.


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