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Not bats, the strongest evidence yet that this animal started Covid

Mar 17, 2023 01:29 PM IST

Covid Origin In Wuhan: The analysis found that the samples were infected by the virus which carried genetic material of animals including raccoon dogs.

The origin of the Covid pandemic has kept researchers puzzled for a very long time. But an international team of experts found evidence suggesting that the Covid virus may have spread from infected raccoon dogs that were being illegally sold at a seafood market in China's Wuhan, The New York Times reported.

Covid Origin In Wuhan: Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team during a visit at the Hubei Animal Epidemic Disease Prevention and Control Center in Wuhan.(Reuters)

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The conclusion was drawn after researchers gathered genetic data form swabs that were taken from Hunan Seafood Wholesale Market and close arease in 2020, the report said. Swabs were taken from floors, walls, carts, and cages used to transport the animals, the report added.

The analysis found that the samples were infected by the virus which carried genetic material of animals including raccoon dogs. Even though this does not confirm that raccoon dogs were infected or if they transmitted the virus to humans, the research notes that the virus spread from wild animals.

“This is a really strong indication that animals at the market were infected. There's really no other explanation that makes any sense,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist who was part of the research told The Atlantic.

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The research was led by three researchers namely Kristian Andersen, Michael Worobey, and Edward Holmes, the report said and the data was posted by on GISAID, an open-access genomic database. It was then downloaded and analysed by scientists from North America, Australia, and Europe. Chinese had already examined the samples and said that “no animal host of SARS-CoV-2 can be deduced”.

Alex Crits-Christoph, a computational biologist said that the genetic data was “tangible”, adding, “this is the species that everyone has been talking about”.

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