COVID ORIGINSCOVID-19 Origins: New Evidence, and More Politics

Published 24 March 2023

Last week, researchers released a report linking SARS-CoV-2 to six near-complete samples of raccoon-dog mitochondrial DNA sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. The report says that “These results provide potential leads to identifying intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 and potential sources of human infections in the market.”

Last week, researchers released a report, posted on Zenodo, titled “Genetic Evidence of Susceptible Wildlife in SARS-CoV-2 Positive Samples at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, Wuhan: Analysis and Interpretation of Data Released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control.”

Pandora Report writes:

Nature discusses key findings of the report, writing:

Particularly notable was the raccoon-dog mitochondrial DNA found in six samples from two stalls. These small fox-like animals are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and can spread the infection to other raccoon dogs without showing clear signs of sickness. Raccoon dogs and masked palm civets have also been found with infections of viruses that are almost identical to the one that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, which is related to SARS-CoV-2 and caused an outbreak in people in 2003. And work in palm-civet cells indicates that the creatures could possibly become infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers were looking for evidence of mammals, which could have been intermediate hosts of the virus. They identified near-complete mitochondrial-DNA sequences — each some 16,000 base pairs long — for five species, including raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura), Amur hedgehog (Erinaceus amurensis), masked palm civet (Paguma larvata) and hoary bamboo rat (Rhizomys pruinosus)…”

Furthermore, in their forward, the authors discuss their discovery of data posted publicly on the GISAID database corresponding to sequences from environmental samples collected at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. Though metadata suggests this data was posted in June 2022, it was not made publicly available until recently. According to the report,

We downloaded the public data to search for genetic sequences from non-human animals, which the CCDC did not identify in their February 2022 preprint. The preprint also posited that all SARS-CoV-2-positive samples in the market were the result of human infections, claiming that the market was a site of amplification of an already widespread epidemic. We and others therefore had urgently requested release of the data. The potential for analysis of samples for animal DNA had also been recommended in the mission report of the World Health Organization (WHO)-convened global study of origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part, released March 2021.