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Dr. Gupta reacts to new analysis claims about Covid-19 raccoon dogs origin theory
02:19 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The World Health Organization still does not have key data from China about the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak, putting the world in jeopardy, says Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the group’s Covid-19 technical lead and head of its program on emerging diseases.

“The lack of data disclosure is simply inexcusable,” Van Kerkhove wrote in an editorial in the journal Science on Thursday. “The longer it takes to understand the origins of the pandemic, the harder it becomes to answer the question, and the more unsafe the world becomes.”

Understanding how the disease emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 would help prevent future outbreaks, Van Kerkhove said.

It was only this year, three years after the start of the pandemic, that WHO got access to certain data that Chinese scientists had gathered in early 2020 at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. The raw genetic sequences from the samples had recently been uploaded to the data-sharing site GISAID. They were soon removed, but quick-thinking researchers had already noticed them and downloaded them for further study.

An analysis of that material uncovered animal DNA in samples already known to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A significant amount of that DNA seemed to belong to animals known as raccoon dogs, which had been on sale at the market, WHO officials said in March.

Although the sequences showed that the animal could have been an intermediate host and that the market amplified the spread of the virus, the data did not show that people who interacted with those animals got sick through that exposure. In other words, the findings did not settle the question of how the pandemic started.