Bombshell new theory on origin of coronavirus pandemic

The disease has been linked to infected animals for the first time.

A bombshell report has found the potential origins of the coronavirus, for the first time linking the disease to infected creatures for sale at a market in Wuhan.

This week an international group of virus experts determined that Covid traces were found at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, mixed in with the genetics of illegally sold racoon dogs, The Atlantic first reported.

While the research team, including biologist Edward Holmes from the University of Sydney, have not established if racoon dogs spread Covid, they did theorise people were infected from the animal, which is something that was previously unknown.

Photos from 2014 by University of Sydney scientist Eddie Holmes show birds and racoon dogs kept in cages at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Source: Supplied
Photos from 2014 by scientist Edward Holmes show birds and racoon dogs kept in cages at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Source: Supplied

Interestingly, one particular sample was linked to a specific stall containing a cage of racoon dogs on top of another cage with birds, which Dr Holmes had actually seen in 2014.

According to the team, this would've created the correct environment to transmit new viruses, The New York Times reports.

First time data is being accessed outside of China

It's the first time international experts have been able to look at these highly anticipated swabs with "raw sequence data", which were taken from the market in January 2020 before it was shut.

A photo of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in January 2020
Wuhan Hygiene Emergency Response Teams attend the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in January 2020. Source: Getty

Viral experts learnt about the raw data more than a year ago in a Chinese report, which was then published on the GISAID website by researchers – some of who were from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, now that international researchers are looking into the data and have reached out to collaborate with Chinese researchers, the sequences have reportedly mysteriously disappeared.

"As scientists, we can work together on this," one of the experts Kristian Andersen told Science Insider.

The international team are still analysing the data, with a report yet to be published, however they are pretty sure in their discoveries.

"Given that the animals that were present in the market were not sampled at the time, this is as good as we can hope to get," one of the researchers Dr Stephen Goldstein told The New York Times.

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