Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticized China for withholding data related to samples taken at a market in Wuhan in 2020 that could have provided vital information about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization has asked China to exercise transparency and share the results of the investigation. The Huanan market in central China’s Wuhan city was the epicenter of the pandemic. SARS-CoV-2, after originating there, rapidly spread from Wuhan to other locations in late 2019 and then to the rest of the world. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in Geneva on Friday, “Every piece of data related to the study of the origin of Covid-19 needs to be shared with the international community immediately. These data should have been shared three years ago.
He said, “We call on China to be transparent in sharing data, conducting necessary investigations, and sharing results. There remains an ethical and scientific imperative to find out how the pandemic originated. Gebreyes said last Sunday the WHO was made aware of publishing data on the GISAID database in late January and recently retracted it. “This data from the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertains to samples taken in 2020 from the Huanan market in Wuhan,” he said. Gebreyes said that when the data was online, scientists in many countries downloaded and analyzed it.
He said, “As soon as we became aware of this data, we contacted China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention and urged them to share it with WHO and the international scientific community so that it can be analyzed.” Gebreyes said that the WHO called a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origin of the Virus (SAGO) and its meeting took place on Tuesday. The WHO chief said, We asked scientists from China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and scientists from the international group to submit their analysis of the data to SAGO. This data does not definitively answer the question of how the pandemic started, but every piece of data is important in getting us closer to that answer.
‘New York Times’ In a news report on Thursday, an international team of virus experts said they had found ‘genetic data from a market in Wuhan, China, that linked the coronavirus to raccoon dogs sold there. Has come to the fore.” The news said that the genetic data was taken from samples collected in and around the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in early January 2020. It added that this data was collected soon after the market was closed by the Chinese authorities. The animals were then removed from the market and researchers took samples from the walls and from the cages and carts used to transport them.
“The international research team found animal-related genetic material, including large amounts of raccoon dog DNA, in the samples that tested positive for coronavirus,” the report quoted three scientists involved in the analysis as saying. The report said that after encountering the new data, the international team approached the Chinese researchers who uploaded the data with an offer of cooperation. However, the data was later removed from GISAID.
The New York Times reported that the mixing of genetic material from the virus and animals “does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected.” “Even if a raccoon dog was infected, it is not clear whether it transmitted the virus,” the report said. The virus may have been transmitted to humans from another animal, or the virus may have been transmitted to a raccoon dog from a person infected with the virus.