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WHO accuses China of withholding data on possible Covid-origin link with raccoon dogs

The World Health Organization Criticism of China It said it withheld key data that Covid emerged from a raccoon dog sold at a market in Wuhan in late 2019.

The animal’s genetic sequences from the market were posted online in January, but disappeared after experts offered to work with their Chinese counterparts on their analysis. new york times report.

“These data could have been shared three years ago and should have been shared,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Said During Friday’s news briefing. “We continue to urge China to be transparent in sharing data, conduct necessary investigations, and share results. Understanding how the pandemic began is both moral and scientific. is also essential.”

The data in question, collected in early 2020, after the first cluster of cases on the market, show that raccoon DNA is mixed with the virus, suggesting that illegally sold animals may be infected with the coronavirus. This suggests that it may have been a host before infecting humans.

“The animals that accumulated that DNA likely also accumulated the virus,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who helped analyze the data. told the Associated Press“If you were to do environmental sampling in the aftermath of a zoonotic spillover event…this is basically exactly what you would expect.”

Since the first cases of Covid began spreading in 2019, scientists have continued to search to pinpoint the exact origins of the disease, but definitive answers have been elusive.

Most publicly available evidence indicates that the virus infected humans at or near the Wuhan market.

“Clarifyingly, all evidence available for scrutiny points to a pandemic that originated from live animal-to-human transmission (zoonotic spread) at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China. On the origin of the disease in 2022, wrote in Washington PostEarly this month.

But the so-called “laborique” theory, that Covid stemmed from an accidental release in a nearby lab studying the coronavirus, is gaining momentum in some corners.

Both the Department of Energy and the FBI Believe the disease leaked from a Chinese labneither agency has submitted evidence of this claim to the public for analysis, and neither has more than “low” to “moderate” confidence in its findings.

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