The World Health Organization rebuked Chinese officials Friday for withholding research that may link COVID-19’s origin to wild animals, asking why the data had not been made available three years ago and why it is now missing.
Before the Chinese data disappeared, an international team of virus experts downloaded and began analyzing the research, which appeared online in January. They say it supports the idea that the pandemic could have begun when illegally traded raccoon dogs infected humans at a Wuhan seafood market.
But the gene sequences were removed from a scientific database once the experts offered to collaborate on the analysis with their Chinese counterparts.
“These data could have — and should have — been shared three years ago,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The missing evidence now “needs to be shared with the international community immediately,” he said.
According to the experts who are reviewing it, the research offers evidence that raccoon dogs — foxlike animals known to spread coronaviruses — had left behind DNA in the same place in the Wuhan market that genetic signatures of the new coronavirus also were discovered.
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Primary Source: Japan Times
Factual Confidence: 100% Verified (Multiple Sources, Official Statement)