Genetic data ties pandemic's origins to Wuhan market

Researchers have found new genetic data that links SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with raccoon dogs sold at a market in Wuhan, China, The Atlantic reported March 16.

The international team of virus experts swabbed the walls, floors, cages and carts used at the market starting in January 2020. Researchers found genetic material from animals in swabs that tested positive for the virus. A large portion of the genetic materials was linked back to raccoon dogs, which are related to foxes and known to transmit the coronavirus. 

Researchers said the evidence is consistent with a scenario in which the virus jumped to humans from an infected animal. However, the finding does not prove that a raccoon dog was infected at the market, or that the virus spread from the dogs to humans, The New York Times reported.

The finding comes amid renewed interest into the pandemic's origins and calls from some lawmakers to declassify information after the Energy Department identified a lab leak as the most likely cause of the pandemic in late February, though officials said the conclusion was made with "low confidence." 


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