IIn another twist to the ongoing search for where COVID-19 originated, an international group of researchers came across new genetic material that was suddenly deleted after being posted to a public scientific database. rice field.
like the first reported in Atlantic OceanIn early March, Florence Debarre, an evolutionary biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research, was searching GISAID, a public database where scientists upload the genetic sequences of pathogens they are studying. At that site, she found the sequence from a sample collected from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, in January 2020. The market had just closed due to concerns that the COVID-19 virus could come from animals sold there.
Debarre, along with researchers in the United States and Australia, further studied the gene sequence and found that it could be traced to a street cart that one of the team’s scientists remembered from visiting the market in 2014. . according to new york timesAt the time, raccoon dogs were carried on carts with cages on top of the cages that housed the birds. Infectious disease experts know that it can facilitate the spread of viruses from species to species. Samples taken from carts in 2020 also contained SARS-CoV-2.
In February 2022, Chinese authorities released a summary. result Number of swabs collected in 2020 from air, surfaces and animals on the market. However, not all gene sequences for these samples have been uploaded to his GISAID. The report found no virus among the 18 animal species sampled, but the virus is prevalent in environmental samples such as air and surfaces, where people hide the virus and spread it in markets. I was suggesting that it was possible.
The scientific and political community is skeptical about whether SARS-CoV-2 originated in animals and spread to humans, or whether the virus was intentionally or accidentally created by researchers at the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology and then spread to animals. Opinions were divided for a long time. and people around the world. In its latest information report on the subject, the U.S. Department of Energy leaned toward the Laborique Hypothesis, but classified its conclusions as “unreliable.” Four other U.S. government groups and the U.S. National Intelligence Council determined that the virus likely passed from animals to humans, but their assessments were also of low to moderate confidence, with COVID-19 The question remains as to how it began.
A new sample found by Debarre may help provide some answers. But shortly after she and other scientists contacted the Chinese team that wrote her first report, the gene sequence disappeared from GISAID.
March 17th Press conference, Maria van Kerhove, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, called on China to make the deleted data available to scientists. “The big problem right now is that this data exists and is not readily available to the international community,” she said in her first survey, which said the World Health Organization was suggested Earlier this year, the organization reduced The next phase of the planned analysis cites challenges in gaining access to data from Chinese health authorities. “We need to look at all the data we need to evaluate each of these. [hypotheses] To be able to say, ‘This may have happened, this may not have happened.'”
Most recent genetic evidence has found that animal and viral genes are co-located, but has yet to show gene sequences in infected animals, or in animals that show evidence of viral infection. But the fact that the raccoon dog’s DNA and the viral genetic material were so close together means that SARS-CoV-2 could have infected the raccoon dog and jumped on humans entering and leaving the market. increase.
The sequences Debarre discovered suggest there is more data from early tests in the market that Chinese authorities have not fully revealed or analyzed. That imperfection leaves the mystery of where COVID-19 originated unsolved.
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