An analysis of the study, published in the scientific database Gisaid, suggests that raccoon dogs may be involved in the emergence of the coronavirus – they were traded in the market in Wuhan, where the COVID-19 outbreak occurred.
As noted in The Atlanticgenetic samples for research were recently uploaded to an international database, but after scientists asked about them from China, they were removed.
The Guardian writesthat an international team of virus experts studied genetic samples from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan taken in the first weeks after the start of the epidemic. At that time, the animals had already been removed from the market, but the researchers took samples from the walls, floors, carts for transportation and metal cages.
A positive result for coronavirus was found in those swabs where the genetic material of a raccoon dog was present. But at the same time, scientists say, this does not prove that these animals became the source of the virus. Virologist and senior team leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London Jonathan Stoye notes:
“The discovery of raccoon dogs infected with SARS-CoV-2 raises the possibility that coronavirus-infected farm animals were an important link in the series of events that led to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this does not disprove the theory of virus leakage from the laboratory.”
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