Covid-19 origins linked to raccoon dogs in China
Covid-19 – The Covid-19 virus triggered a global pandemic in 2020, wreaking havoc on the planet with consequences that may still be felt today.
While there is now a vaccination to battle the virus, its origins are still unknown, which frequently leads to heated political controversy.
Notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the virus’s origins, research has mostly focused on the pandemic beginning with animal viral spillover.
Although there is a theory that the virus was spilled from a lab, either accidentally or on purpose, there is no substantial proof.
American intelligence services are split on whether theory is most plausible.
The Department of Energy and the FBI are leaning more toward the virus leaking from a lab.
However, the National Intelligence Council is among those who believe Covid-19 originated naturally.
However, the majority of agencies have reached a shaky conclusion.
According to the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community’s available facts on which to base its predictions was dubious, fragmented, or limited.
The relevant intelligence may soon become public, since US President Joe Biden signed a measure into law on March 20 that declassifies official information on the virus’s origin within 90 days.
While hypotheses swirl, a DNA study appears to match the jigsaw of the spillover situation with the raccoon dog in the forefront.
The latest evidence
During a press conference on March 17, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kept any speculation about the origins of Covid-19 to a minimum.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began,” he said.
“But every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer.”
The first human Covid-19 instances were linked to Wuhan, China, especially the Huanon Fish Wholesale Market.
In 2020, environmental samples from the southwest part of the market included genetic material from animals as well as coronavirus.
Live animals were also sold on the corner.
Computational scientist Alex Crits-Christoph and his international colleagues discovered virus-positive specimens on the DNA of the common raccoon dog.
The fox-like mammal widespread across Asia is susceptible to coronavirus infections, especially SARDS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The researchers hypothesized that the virus may have spread from bats to raccoon dogs or other animals at the market before infecting humans.
Their idea is based on the discovery of residues of both animal and coronavirus in the same samples.
On March 20, the researchers published its findings on Zenodo, a platform that allows scientists to discuss unpublished research findings with their colleagues.
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Crits-Christoph and his colleagues conducted the current study using public genetic data published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in early March.
The data is connected to a preliminary analysis from the Chinese CDC from February 2022, allowing the team to zero down on an animal stand in the market’s southwest with the highest virus-positive samples.
In the stall, a cart sample included an abundance of genetic material from raccoon dogs, ducks, and other animals.
The sample also indicated a paucity of human DNA, suggesting that the animals were in close proximity to the coronavirus.
The findings imply that raccoon dogs (or other animals) may have carried the coronavirus from bats to humans.
While the data appears compelling, Tedros emphasizes that the findings do not support the spillover concept.
The presence of animal and coronavirus DNA in samples simply suggests that they are related.
Nonetheless, the spillover idea remains speculative.
It is unknown whether the animals in the stalls were infected with Covid-19 and whether they transferred it on to people.
While a positive swab from a live animal on the market in late November or December 2019 would have been preferable, it is now unattainable.
The diseased animals were most likely gone when inspectors inspected the sale in early 2020.
Covid-19 has since developed, morphing in individuals to produce alpha, delta, and omicron variations, which in turn have generated further variants.
Animals are also evolving Covid-19.
Coronaviruses present in animals now (or two years ago), for example, would not resemble the SARS-CoV-2 by the end of 2019, therefore they would not match.
“It’s like a cold criminal case,” said the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis epidemiologist Michael Osterholm.
“There may be mounting evidence that, you know, John Doe did it. But not conclusive enough to try John Doe for the crime.”
Image source: NBC News