COVID-19 pandemic could have originated in raccoon canines in China: report
Could this cuddly-looking creature have induced the coronavirus pandemic?
Three years after COVID-19 launched the world to its knees, the scientific neighborhood stays bitterly divided over the origins of the virus, whatever the rising consensus that it was manufactured contained in the Wuhan Institute of Virology all through gain-of-function evaluation.
But a model new analysis of genetic supplies from the infamous Wuhan moist market components to a model new unlikely offender — the raccoon canine.
Analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market in January 2020 reveals that raccoon canines being illegally purchased at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market could have been carrying and shedding the virus on the outbreak of the pandemic, in holding with a wild new report in The Atlantic.
However, researchers who carried out the analysis have expressed warning about their very personal findings, saying they don’t conclusively present that raccoon canines have been the distinctive host of the virus. The findings have moreover been met with derision by some politicians and pundits, with one saying it’s nothing larger than an attempt to divert from rising proof that the virus leaked from a lab.
Meanwhile, the genetic sequences have been reportedly pulled out of swabs taken in and near market stalls shortly after they have been shut down by Chinese authorities after the preliminary unfold of the virus.
“This really strengthens the case for a natural origin,” Seema Lakdawala, a
virologist at Emory University, suggested the outlet.
Raccoon canines are small, heavy-set mammals native to East Asia and are most intently related to foxes. The animals had reportedly been purchased illegally on the moist market for years.
The genetic sequences have been posted to a database known as GISAID by researchers affiliated with China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention remaining week.
They have been shortly observed by researchers who downloaded them from the database and began an analysis. Days later, the genetic sequences have been mysteriously pulled down from GISAID with out rationalization.
The analysis of the genetic sequences has been led by Kristian Andersen, a virologist on the Scripps Research Institute in California, Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist on the University of Arizona, and Michael Worobey, a virologist on the University of Sydney in Australia.
According to The Atlantic, the trio found that “several surfaces in and around one stall at the market, including a cart and a defeathering machine, produced virus-positive samples that also contained genetic material from raccoon dog.”
It is the first time the finger has been pointed on the fox-like animal as a possible host of the virus — although the researchers have expressed warning about their very personal findings.
“Do we know the intermediate host was raccoon dogs? No,” Andersen bluntly suggested The Atlantic. “Is it high up on my list of potential hosts? Yes, but it’s definitely not the only one.”
Indeed, as The New York Times critiques of the evaluation: “The jumbling together of genetic material from the virus and the animal does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected. And even if a raccoon dog had been infected, it would not be clear that the animal had spread the virus to people.”
Meanwhile, the potential new concept has been met with outright derision by some officers and social media pundits.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted: They suggested us #COVID went from a bat, to a pangolin, to now, a RACCOON DOG. But must you suppose it received right here from a lab, you’re a conspiracy theorist.”
“Too coincidental they come out with that info AFTER the US Dept of Energy leaning towards lab leak and Congress begins hearings on origin of Covid. It’s a DISTRACTION,” another stated.
Indeed, the model new concept comes after a labeled report from the US Dept. of Energy declared with “low confidence” that the virus that causes COVID-19 most actually leaked from a Chinese laboratory.
That assertion comes larger than a yr after the FBI concluded a lab accident in China was the origin of the sickness, which has killed larger than 6.8 million people all around the world, along with 1.1 million throughout the US.
The FBI’s willpower was made with “moderate confidence” and stays the bureau’s opinion.
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