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New study links Wuhan market’s Raccoon dogs to COVID origins



A raccoon dog

Raccoon dogs have been linked to the origins of COVID in a new study suggesting the pandemic may have emanated from animals and not a laboratory leak.

International scientists identified the dogs’ DNA mixed with the virus from genetic material collected at a market near where the first human cases were detected in China in late 2019.

Samples were taken in early 2020 from surfaces at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan and the genetic sequences were recently uploaded by China to the world’s largest public virus database.

The sequences were then removed but not before a French biologist spotted the information by chance and shared it with a group of scientists based outside China, who were looking into the coronavirus’ origins.

Data showed some samples, which were known to be positive for the coronavirus, also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs, indicating the animals may have been infected by the virus, the experts said.

It will be recalled that last month, the US Energy Department said the virus most likely leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan with World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying latest data findings do not provide a definitive answer on how the pandemic first began but stated “every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer”.

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