Covid-19 Origin: A Second look

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Referring to newly released genetic data, The Guardian says live food samples collected from the Wuhan food market were Covid-19 positive in racoon dog DNA “adding weight to the theory that infected animals sold at the site started the coronavirus pandemic”.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told “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”.

“The samples were collected from surfaces at the Huanan seafood market in early 2020 in Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were found in late 2019”, writes MPR News.

Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah, who was said to be involved in analyzing the data, told “There’s a good chance that the animals that deposited that DNA also deposited the virus. 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.”

Prof Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, told Science magazine, “The data does point even further to a market origin”.

Dr Jonathan Stoye, a virologist and senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London, told The Gurdian: “The finding of Sars-CoV-2 infected racoon dogs strengthens the plausibility that coronavirus-infected farmed animals were an important link in the series of events leading to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, it does not disprove lab-leak theories: that would require the demonstration that such animals were infected prior to their arrival and display at the Huanan seafood market, something that may never be possible.”