The WHO accuses China of withholding data on a possible link between Covid origin and raccoon dogs

The World Health Organization has criticized China for allegedly withholding important data that Covid originated from raccoon dogs sold at a market in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Gene sequences from animals from the market were posted online in January but disappeared when experts offered to collaborate with their Chinese colleagues on their analysis. The New York Times reports.

“These data could have been – and could have – been shared three years ago,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. called during a press conference on Friday. “We continue to urge China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results. Understanding how the pandemic began remains both a moral and scientific imperative.”

The Independent has asked the Chinese government for comment.

The data in question, collected in early 2020 after an initial spate of cases at the market, shows DNA from raccoon dogs mixed with the virus, suggesting the illegally sold animals may have been the host for the coronavirus before it spread to humans.

“There’s a good chance that the animals that deposited this DNA also deposited the virus,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who helped analyze the data. said The Associated Press. “Basically, if you were to take environmental samples after a zoonotic spillover event…this is exactly what you would expect.”

Ever since the first cases of Covid began to spread in 2019, scientists have searched for the exact origin of the disease, although definite answers have been elusive.

Most of the publicly available evidence suggests that the virus jumped to humans at or near the market in Wuhan.

“To be clear, all the evidence available for review suggests that the pandemic originated from live animal-to-human transmission — zoonotic spread — at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China,” the statement said Virologist Angela Rasmussen, who published one of the most important studies into the origins of the disease in 2022, enrolled The Washington Post earlier this month.

However, the so-called “lab leak” theory that Covid originated from an accidental release at a nearby coronavirus testing lab has gained traction in some corners.

The Department of Energy and the FBI both believe the disease leaked from a Chinese lab, although neither agency has released their evidence supporting this claim for the public to analyze and have no more than “low” to “moderate” confidence in the finding. The WHO accuses China of withholding data on a possible link between Covid origin and raccoon dogs

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