FILE-A health worker takes a swab sample from a woman to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Beijing on March 23, 2022. (JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images) BEIJING - Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human cases of COVID-19 were identified show raccoon dog DNA comingled with the virus, suggesting the pandemic may have originated from animals, not a lab, international experts say.Other experts have not yet verified their analysis, which has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal.
How the coronavirus began sickening people remains uncertain. The sequences will have to be matched to the genetic record of how the virus evolved to see which came first."These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.RELATED: China reports 60,000 COVID-related deaths since early DecemberHe criticized China for not sharing the genetic information earlier, telling a press briefing that "this data could have and should have been shared three years ago."The samples were collected from surfaces at the Huanan seafood market in early 2020 in Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were found in late 2019.Tedros said the genetic sequences were recently uploaded to the world's biggest public virus database by scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.They 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 that's looking into the origins of the coronavirus.RELATED: China says it's been 'open and transparent'.