New study finds Wuhan, China market likely source of COVID

A market in Wuhan, China, that sold live animals likely was the point of origin for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a pair of studies released Saturday.

“When you look at all of the evidence together, it’s an extraordinarily clear picture that the pandemic started at the Huanan market,” said Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona who co-authored both studies, told the New York Times.

The studies have yet to be published in a scientific journal.

Researchers analyzed data from a variety of sources to seek clues to how the pandemic began. They concluded it was present in live mammals sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in late 2019.

“The most probable explanation for the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into humans involves zoonotic jumps from an as-yet-undetermined, intermediate host animal at the  Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market,” says one study.

Virology Wuhan
The researchers found no evidence for the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a lab.
AFP via Getty Images

The research also suggested the virus likely twice spilled over into people working or shopping at the market, the Times said. They found no support for an alternate theory that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan.

The authors of the new study include researchers who previously published smaller reports that came to a similar conclusion.

Many of the first cases of COVID-19 cases were linked to the market, specifically to a section where raccoon dogs were caged, according to the study, providing strong evidence of a live-animal market origin of the pandemic.

The origin of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — remains a major source of tension between Beijing and Washington.

Wuhan market
The study claims that the COVID-19 virus jumped to humans from animals.

The Trump administration and later, intelligence officials in the Biden
administration pointed to the possibility of a virology research lab in Wuhan,
as Chinese government officials sought to deflect blame — leading to more
uncertainty about the origins.

However, the new studies strengthen the theory that the virus originated in animals
sold in the market — much like the first SARS outbreak in 2002-2004.

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