Full report linking Covid's origins to raccoon dogs in wet market is revealed trends now
Scientists have released the full report that made headlines last week linking Covid's origins to raccoon dogs sold at an infamous wet market in Wuhan.
The paper, which has not been peer-reviewed and was published online Monday, suggests the fox-like mammals sold at the slaughter market were carrying Covid at the end of 2019.
It found genetic material from raccoon dogs and several other animals known to harbor Covid were located in some of the same stalls where SARS-CoV-2’s genome was also present at the time of the initial outbreak.
Some of that animal genetic material, which was collected just days or weeks after the market was shut down, appears to be RNA—a particularly fast-degrading molecule. This means the animals were present just before the samples were collected — making them a potential vessel to transmit the virus to humans.
Scientists did not make the raw data available with their pre-print report, making it impossible for independent experts to fact-check their findings. Some have also criticized the report as it just provides proof that there were infected raccoon dogs, but does not give enough evidence to be a smoking gun.
Researchers identified stalls in the southwest corner of the market where Covid is most prevalent. A large portion of Covid samples gathered from the area were from raccoon dogs, they determined
Racoon dogs made up more than 80 percent of Covid samples that researchers could identify a species for with 99 percent confidence or more
Among the authors of the paper is Dr Kristian Andersen, a Danish biologist from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
He rose to prominence in 2021 when emails between him and Dr Anthony Fauci discussing how the virus may have been engineered early in the pandemic were revealed to the public.
'Our findings contribute to and underscore the large body of evidence supporting a natural origin of [Covid],' the researchers concluded in their paper.
But, Some experts have cast doubts on the conclusion, as the data does not confirm the virus transmitted from the animal to humans.
There is a possibility, some have pointed out, that the virus could have instead transmitted from a person to a raccoon dog.
The study began when Dr Florence Débarre, from the French National Center for Scientific Research, came across the data the day it was published, March 4.
Researchers downloaded the data, hoping to investigate it as part of their search for Covid's origin.
It was later pulled down by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC).
Researchers learned later that the data was uploaded on June 22, 2022, but not released to the public. It was also used for a pre-print report revealed by Chinese scientists in February 2022
The CCDC told researchers it plans to re-upload the data after its own review. It is unclear when that may be. Chinese officials have been notoriously uncooperative in the search for Covid's origin.
Data included positive Covid swabs from around the Huanan Wetfood market in the early days of the pandemic.
Using genomic sequencing, researchers could identify the species of more than 7,000 Covid-positive swabs with at least 99 percent accuracy.
Among them, a vast majority were raccoon dogs. The animals have long been theorized to be an intermediate host of the virus, acquiring it from bats and transmitting it to humans.
These animals are known to shed large viral loads and have acted as intermediate hosts between bats and humans for previous pathogens.
This data was