A man wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 walks past a Communist Party flag in Wuhan, China, March 31, 2020.
Noel Sallis | AFP | Getty Images
The World Health Organization on Friday called on China to release new data linking the origin of the Covid pandemic to animal samples at a Wuhan market after recent research in the country was discarded.
The agency said that China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded data related to samples taken in Wuhan’s Huanan market in 2020 to the public virus tracking database GISAID in late January.
Researchers from several countries downloaded and analyzed the data before it was removed, and presented their findings to the WHO late last week. The researchers found molecular evidence that raccoon dogs and other animals susceptible to COVID were sold in the market, consistent with the hypothesis about the virus being transmitted from a wild animal to humans.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said the new data does not provide a conclusive answer as to how the pandemic began, “but it does provide more clues about the possible host” of the virus that transmitted it to humans. Is. She called on China to publicly release the data so the WHO and other researchers can further analyze it and get closer to understanding the origins of the pandemic that has killed millions of people worldwide.
“The big issue right now is that this data exists and it is not readily available to the international community,” van Kerkhove said. “It is first and foremost, not to mention that it should have been made available years ago, but that data needs to be made accessible to individuals who can access it, who can analyze it And who can discuss it with each other.”
The WHO call comes at a time when the debate on the origin of Covid has intensified. Researchers are clashing over competing theories and governments are taking positions on what to do next.
new york times first informed of on new figures on Thursday. The researchers told the Times that molecular data was collected from January 2020 on walls, floors, metal cages and carts in and around the market. For the outbreak of covid.
The researchers said the large amount of data was a match for raccoon dogs.
Van Kerkhove stressed that the data does not necessarily prove that a raccoon dog or any other animal was infected with the virus and spread it to people. but he said It establishes that animals that can carry Covid were sold in the market, which is “new information”.
He said it was unknown where the animals had come from and whether they were wild or domestic. According to Van Kerkhove, the WHO is pushing for studies in Wuhan and other markets in China. It is also demanding serology tests, which measure antibodies, for people working in markets.
Van Kerkhove also said that “all hypotheses” on how COVID entered the human population are still under consideration. He said more research is needed on possible breaches in biosafety from a lab or whether the virus originated in bats before making the jump to humans.
,We don’t have all the information in front of us, and we need to be able to look at all these different hypotheses. We need to look at all the data that is needed to assess each of these so that we can say it may have happened, it may not have happened,” he said.
He added that the WHO “will not be able to sort out the various hypotheses” until China re-uploads its data.
FBI Director Christopher Wray Said Earlier this month the bureau believed that Covid most likely originated in a laboratory controlled by the Chinese government.
In February, the Department of Energy Evaluation “with low confidence” That Kovid has leaked from a lab.
Roughly 44% of US adults believe the virus spread from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, while 26% say it naturally transferred from animals to humans, according to a Morning Consult poll . Free last month.