Genetic samples collected near the site of the first human cases of Covid-19 infection in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan DNA from greyhounds was mixed with the virus, suggesting the epidemic may have originated in animals – MTI writes about a panel of international experts.
Other experts have yet to validate the analysis, which is currently pending publication in a peer-reviewed journal. It’s not clear how the virus started making people sick. Now the analyzed DNA must be compared with data on the evolution of the virus to reveal what came first.
These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the epidemic began, but each piece of data is important to getting closer to the answer.
He said on Friday Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusDirector-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
The samples analyzed in the latest study were collected from the surface of a live animal market in Wuhan in early 2020. Tedros said the DNA sequences were recently uploaded to the world’s largest public virus database by scientists at China’s epidemiologic center, but the data was removed.
A French biologist happened to notice this information and shared it with a research group outside China investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2, a new type of coronavirus.
Data showed that covid-positive samples taken from a stand used in the wildlife trade also contained genes from greyhounds, suggesting the animals may have been infected with the virus, the scientists said, the results of which were first reported by the Americans. Magazine The Atlantic.
Animals with DNA are also more likely to carry the virus
said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who participated in the research.
“Market sampling data released by the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strong evidence of animal origin,” said founding epidemiologist Ray Yip of the CDC’s China office, who was not involved in the analysis.
WHO’s chief of technology for Covid-19, Maria Van Gerkov, pointed out that the analysis did not find any virus in any animals, nor evidence that any animal had infected humans.
It took virologists more than 12 years to prove the animal origin of the SARS virus, a relative of the new type of coronavirus. According to Goldstein and his colleagues, their analysis is the first definitive evidence that wild animals on the market may be infected with the virus. However, people may have brought the virus to market and infected greyhounds, but the infected may have left traces of the virus next to the animals. Goldstein told the AP news agency that his research team presented its findings this week to an advisory group tasked by the WHO to trace the origins of Covid-19.
Mark Woolhouse, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said comparing the husky’s genetic sequences with data on the evolution of the new type of coronavirus would be decisive.
If the huskies are diagnosed with Covid-19 and their viruses are proven to predate the viruses that have infected humans, “that would be the best evidence that the virus may have started to spread in the marketplace.”
– he said.
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