After news emerged that raccoons were present at a market in Wuchan – which is being considered the site of the start of the coronavirus pandemic – World Health Organisation (WHO) advisers urged China to release all information related to the genesis of the spread of the disease. The animals may also have been infected and are considered to have contributed to the spreading of the virus further.
The new coronavirus sequences, as well as additional genetic data based on samples taken from a live animal market in Wuhan, China, in 2020, were uploaded to the GISAID database by Chinese scientists earlier this year, allowing them to be viewed by researchers from other countries, reported the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on the Origin of New Pathogens (SAGO), which is quoted by Reuters.
The data suggest that raccoons were present at the market and may also have been infected with coronavirus, providing a new lead in the chain of transmission of the disease that eventually reached humans.
Reuters writes that access to this information was subsequently restricted “apparently to allow for further updates to the data” by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and added: “These data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago.”