March 31, 2023

Scientific Advisory Panel on Emerging Dangerous Pathogens () (WHO) expects data relating to trade in Huanan Market in Wuhan with meat from wild animals, including raccoon dogs, Malaysian porcupines and bamboo rats. This is stated in the statement published on Saturday by this group.

WHO experts asked China to provide data on animals at the market in Wuhan

Photo: RIA NewsRIA News

“SAGO strongly encourages researchers in China to investigate the primary sources of animals and animal products present at the Huanan market immediately prior to its closure and the elimination of all animal products on January 1, 2020,” the experts said. They stressed that they “would like to promote” the publication of “all available megagenome data” in the GISAID international genome monitoring system or other information base.

The WHO convened a meeting of SAGO specialists last Tuesday after the organization learned that China had published in late January and then deleted from the GISAID system data on biomaterial samples taken at the Huanan market in Wuhan in January 2020. An analysis of this information led WHO experts to believe that some of the samples contained DNA from certain animal species, “including those known to be susceptible to [коронавирусу] SARS-CoV-2.” This includes “DNA from wild raccoon dogs, the Malaysian porcupine and bamboo rats,” SAGO said in a statement.

“These results offer potential opportunities to identify intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 and potential human infection sources in the market,” the experts said.

The presence of “high levels of raccoon dog methochondrial DNA” suggests that this and other animals “may have been present before the market was cleared.” There are also photographs showing that raccoon dogs were sold on the market in the past.

“While this does not provide conclusive evidence regarding the intermediate host or origin of the virus, the available data provide additional evidence for the presence of susceptible species on the market. [к SARS-CoV-2] animals that could be a source of human infection,” SAGO concluded. In this regard, the experts called for the “immediate provision of any data related to the study of the origin of SARS-CoV-2, for a reliable and comprehensive analysis.”

Discussions around the origin of covid

Director said on March 1 in an interview with the TV channel fox newsthat his department considers a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the most likely cause of the pandemic. In turn, the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China said on March 6 at a briefing in Beijing that China supports an objective international investigation into the causes of COVID-19 and opposes political manipulation around this issue. The PRC has provided more information and scientific insights to the investigation than any other country, while the US has not provided experts with any meaningful information on the matter, she said.

A joint report by WHO and China, published in March 2021 following an international mission to Wuhan, noted that the most likely scenario for the emergence of COVID-19 is the transfer of the disease from bats to another animal, which later infected people. However, experts have not come to a final conclusion on how exactly the virus got into the Wuhan Huanan seafood market. There have also been suggestions about its laboratory origin.

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