WHO urges China to release data on Wuhan market

A man wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against Covid-19 walks past a Communist Party flag in Wuhan, China, March 31, 2020.

Christmas Celis | AFP | Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Friday called on China to release new data linking the origins of the Covid pandemic to animal samples in the Wuhan market after the country recently abandoned the search.

The agency said the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded data to the public virus tracking database GISAID in late January regarding samples taken from Wuhan’s Huanan market in 2020.

Researchers from several countries downloaded and analyzed the data before it was deleted and presented their findings to the WHO last weekend. The researchers found molecular evidence that raccoon dogs and other Covid-susceptible animals were being sold in the market, which is consistent with hypotheses that the virus spread to humans from a wild animal.

The new data doesn’t provide a conclusive answer on how the pandemic started, “but it does provide more clues,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for Covid-19. She called on China to publicly release the data so that the WHO and other researchers can analyze it in more detail and come closer to understanding the origins of a pandemic that has killed millions around the world.

“The big problem right now is that this data exists and it’s not readily available to the international community,” Van Kerkhove said. “First of all, it’s absolutely essential, not to mention that it should have been available years earlier, but the data must be made accessible to people who can access it, who can analyze it and who can discuss it among themselves. “

The call from the WHO comes as the debate over the origin of Covid intensifies. Researchers clash over competing theories and governments take sides on what to do next.

Van Kerkhove stressed that “all hypotheses” about how Covid entered the human population are still on the table. She said studies needed to be done on a lab’s potential biosafety breaches or whether the virus originated in a bat before spreading to humans.

We don’t have all the information in front of us, and we need to be able to look at all of these different assumptions. We need to look at all the data necessary to assess each one of them so that we can say that maybe it happened, it may not have happened,” she said.

She added that the WHO “cannot remove different hypotheses” until China reloads its data.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said earlier this month the bureau believes Covid most likely came from a Chinese government-controlled lab.

In February, the Department of Energy assessed “with low confidence” that Covid had leaked from a lab.

About 44% of American adults believe the virus spread from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, while 26% say it jumped naturally from animals to humans, according to a Morning Consult poll released last month. .

cnbc-health care

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button