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New COVID origins data point to raccoon dogs in China market

COVID-19 pandemic have been complicated by factors including the massive surge of human infections in the pandemic's first two years and an increasingly bitter political dispute. It took virus experts more than a dozen years to pinpoint the animal origin of SARS, a related virus. Goldstein and his colleagues say their analysis is the first solid indication that there may have been wildlife infected with the coronavirus at the market.

But it is also possible that humans brought the virus to the market and infected the raccoon dogs, or that infected humans simply happened to leave traces of the virus near the animals. After scientists in the group contacted the China CDC, they say, the sequences were removed from the global virus database. Researchers are puzzled as to why data on the samples collected over three years ago wasn’t made public sooner.

Tedros has pleaded with China to share more of its COVID-19 research data. Gao Fu, the former head of the Chinese CDC and lead author of the Chinese paper, didn’t immediately respond to an Associated Press email requesting comment. But he told Science magazine the sequences are “nothing new.

It had been known there was illegal animal dealing and this is why the market was immediately shut down." Goldstein said his group presented its findings this week to an advisory panel the WHO has tasked with investigating COVID-19’s origins. Mark Woolhouse, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Edinburgh, said it will be crucial to see how the raccoon dogs' genetic sequences match up to what's known about the historic evolution of the COVID-19 virus. If the dogs are shown to have COVID and those viruses prove to have earlier origins than the ones that infected people, “that’s

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