Geneva, Switzerland.- The World Health Organization (WHO) criticized China on Friday for hiding an investigation that could link the origin of Covid-19 to wild animals and questioned why the data was not available after 3 years.
Before the Chinese data disappeared, an international team of experts downloaded and began analyzing the research, which appeared online in January.
The research supports the idea that the pandemic may have started when illegally traded raccoon dogs infected humans at a Wuhan seafood market.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer about how the health crisis began, but each piece of information is important to get us closer to that answer,” said the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, this Friday.
They say the gene sequences were removed from a scientific database after experts offered to collaborate on the analysis with their Chinese counterparts.
“This data could have been shared, and should have been shared, three years ago,” Tedros said. The missing evidence must now be shared with the international community immediately.”
Tedros said scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently uploaded the genetic sequences to the world’s largest public virus database.
They were then removed, but not before a French biologist discovered the information by chance and shared it with a group of scientists outside of China investigating the origins of the coronavirus.
The data reveals that some of the Covid-positive samples collected from a post known to be involved in the wildlife trade also contained raccoon dog genes, indicating that the animals may have been infected by the virus, according to the researchers. scientists. Analysis of him was first reported in The Atlantic.
“There’s a good chance that the animals that deposited that DNA also deposited the virus,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who was involved in the data analysis. “If you were to go and do environmental sampling after a zoonotic spill event, this is basically exactly what you would expect to find.”
The canines, named for their raccoon-like faces, are often farmed for their fur and sold for meat in animal markets across China.
Ray Yip, an epidemiologist and founding member of the US Centers for Disease Control office in China, said the findings are significant, though not conclusive.