Chinese scientists: coronavirus did not appear on the market in Wuhan

Soon after the advent of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus worldwide, experts said that the disease most likely came from the so-called wet market in Wuhan, which sells fresh meat, fish and poultry, as well as live game. Now, experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have stated that the first case of SARS-CoV-2 is not related to the local market.

Colin Carlson, a professor at Georgetown University who studies the spread of zoonotic viruses but does not work in the Wuhan laboratory, said he did not notice anything that would indicate the market as a “likely option.”

He added that the theory was believable, since the carrier animal had to come into contact with the person in order to transmit the virus to him. In fact, the SARS-CoV-2 genome is most closely associated with coronaviruses isolated from horseshoe bats in China. From them, as scientists think, the virus was transmitted to the intermediate host, and then to people.

And “wet markets” are fertile ground for this kind of transfer. For example, one of the theories regarding the origin of another SARS coronavirus (2002–2003) states that it originally originated in bats and was transmitted to humans directly or through animals kept in Chinese markets.

Several early cases of COVID-19 were related to the Wuhan seafood market. Researchers later took samples from there and based on the results suggested that the virus somehow got to the surface in the market. But tissue samples from the animals there showed no sign of a new coronavirus, although one of them was supposed to be a carrier.

That is, it is possible that a certain “super-distributor” came to the market already infected and passed the virus to other people.

Carlson emphasizes that we still have a lot to learn. For example, a study that accurately identified bats as the original owners of SARS came out only in 2017, about 15 years after the outbreak of SARS. So, perhaps, in the future we will learn something new about the intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2.

Recall that another theory was that the virus allegedly “escaped” from the Wuhan laboratory. The reason was that a group of scientists led by the Chinese professor of virology, a researcher at the Wuhan Institute, Shi Zhengli, studied coronaviruses for about 18 years. It was Shi Zhengli who discovered that bats serve as a natural reservoir of the virus that causes SARS SARS.

In social networks, Shi Zhengli was accused of letting the coronavirus out of the laboratory. The scientist denies this. “I swear on life, the virus has nothing to do with the laboratory,” she wrote on the WeChat social network. A Chinese colleague, Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, an organization that deals with transmission of infections between animals and humans, spoke in defense of a Chinese virologist.

In an interview with the public law radio station, Daszak called “utter nonsense” the statement that the virus “escaped from the laboratory.” According to the American scientist, he also participated in the collection of bat litter samples and can attest that the SARS-CoV-2 virus samples were not stored in a laboratory in Wuhan. Daszak called the versions about the artificial origin of the coronavirus “an unfortunate politicization of the origin of the pandemic.”

By Cindy
In Other
May 30, 2020

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