Covid-19 found in raccoon dogs in China strengthens theory of natural origin: Report

NEW YORK: New analysis of genetic samples collected from a seafood market in central China Wuhan shows the presence of the city SARS-CoV-2 virus year raccoon dogs sold here, strengthening the argument for the natural origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an international panel of experts.
The New York Times reported Thursday that the genetic data was obtained from swabs in and around the patient. Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market From January 2020, “shortly after the Chinese authorities closed the market due to the suspected outbreak of the new virus.”
The new evidence comes weeks after an intelligence assessment by the US Department of Energy indicated that an “accidental laboratory leak” from a virology laboratory in Wuhan may have been the cause of the pandemic.
When the animals were removed from the market, researchers took swabs from walls, floors, metal cages and carts used to transport animal cages, the report said.
“In the samples that tested positive for the coronavirus, the international research team found genetic material belonging to animals, including a large amount consistent with a raccoon dog,” it said, citing three scientists involved in the analysis.
After gaining access to the new data, the international team contacted the Chinese researchers who uploaded the files with an offer to collaborate, the report noted.
However, after that, the ranks of GISAID (Global Avian Influenza Data Sharing Initiative) disappeared,” the report said.
The report states that the “combination” of the virus and genetic material from the animal does not prove that the raccoon dog itself was infected.
“Even if a raccoon infected a dog, it would not be clear that the animal transmitted the virus to humans. Another animal can transmit the virus to humans, or an infected person can spread the virus to a raccoon dog,” the report said.
“However, as a result of the analysis, it was found that raccoon dogs, fluffy animals that belong to foxes and can be infected with the coronavirus, left genetic marks where the genetic material of the virus remained,” the scientists say.
They noted that the evidence was “consistent” with a scenario where the virus spilled from a wild animal to humans.
“But the genetic data on the market offer the most definitive evidence of how the virus spilled from wild animals to humans outside the laboratory. It also means that Chinese scientists have provided an incomplete account of the evidence that could fill in the details of how the virus spread in the Huanan market,” the report said.
The international team included Michael Urobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona; Christian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in California, and Dr. Edward Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney. They started mining the new genetic data last week.
“One model in particular caught their attention. It was taken from a cart linked to a particular stall in the Huanan Market that Holmes visited in 2014,” the report said.
This stall had “caged raccoon dogs” on top of a separate cage that held the birds, “a type of environment conducive to the spread of new viruses.”
“We found relatively quickly that at least one of these samples had a lot of dog nucleic acid along with viral nucleic acid,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah. new analysis.
Goldstein cautioned that “we don’t have a sick animal and we can’t definitively prove that there was a sick animal in that stall.”
“But given that the animals on the market were not sampled at the time, this is as good as we could hope to get,” the virologist said.
The first case of coronavirus was registered in Wuhan province of China in December 2019. According to the World Health Organization, there have been 760,360,956 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 6,873,477 deaths.

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