Huanan Market is an indoor venue the size of two football fields. Its name means “seafood”.
Wildlife was also on sale at Huanan Market in 2019.
Experts say that the lab leak theory is a baseless allegation. No evidence of leakage from the lab
Sydney: August 15 (Conversation) My colleagues and I published the most comprehensive study of the early events of the COVID-19 pandemic last month in the journal Science. Together, these papers present a coherent evidence-based picture of what happened in the city of Wuhan during the second half of 2019.
It can be assumed that the epidemic probably began in the place where the first cases were reported – at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. It also refutes the idea that the virus originated in a laboratory.
Huanan market was the epicenter of the epidemic
An analysis of the geographic locations of the earliest known COVID cases – as of December 2019 – reveals a strong clustering around Huanan Market. This was true not only for those who worked in the market, but also for those who had nothing to do with it.
Huanan market was the epicenter of the epidemic. After its origin there, the SARS-CoV-2 virus rapidly spread to other parts of Wuhan and then to the rest of the world in early 2020.
Huanan Market is an indoor venue the size of two football fields. Its name means ‘seafood’ and the word gives a misleading impression about it. When I visited the market in 2014, it sold a variety of live wildlife, including raccoon dogs and muskrats.
At that time I suggested to my Chinese colleagues that we sample these animals in the market for the virus. Instead, he set up a virological surveillance study center at the nearby Wuhan Central Hospital, which later took care of many early COVID patients.
Wildlife was also on sale at Huanan Market in 2019. Investigation teams take samples of surfaces, door handles, drains, frozen animals and elsewhere after Chinese authorities closed the market on January 1, 2020.
Most of the samples later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were from the south-west corner of the market. The wildlife I saw for sale during my trip in 2014 was in the southwest corner. This makes it an easy way for the virus to reach humans from animals.
a virus that evolved from animals to humans
SARS-CoV-2 has evolved as a series of lineages, some of which we know as “cheetah variants” (what we call Delta, Omicron, and so on). The first split in the SARS-CoV-2 family – between the “A” and “B” lineages – occurred very early in the pandemic. This market is the center of both castes and both were traced.
Further analysis shows that lineages A and B have come from animals to humans. This simply means that there was a class of infected animals in the Huanan market, which was directly promoting the infection.
Reconstructing the history of mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence over time showed that the B lineage first reached humans. After this, perhaps a few weeks later, this lineage also reached humans.
The shortcoming, of course, is that we do not yet know which animals were involved in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans. Live wildlife was removed from the Huanan market before investigators entered, which increased public safety but hindered the root cause of the virus.
end of lab leak theory
The laboratory leak theory hinges on an unfortunate coincidence: SARS-CoV-2 emerged in a city where a lab was working on a bat-related coronavirus.
Some of these bat coronaviruses are closely related to SARS-CoV-2. But not close enough to become a real ancestor.
Unfortunately, the focus on the Wuhan Institute of Virology has distracted us from another important connection: that, between the first SARS-CoV-1 (which emerged in late 2002), a coronavirus outbreak, and the market for live animals. There is no direct relation. ,
The Lab Leak Theory stands as a baseless allegation. If a lab test finds no evidence of a leak, the scientists involved will be accused of hiding the material.
The debate over the origins of COVID has deepened the wounds that can never be healed. This has instilled mistrust in science and fueled divisive political opinion. Individual scientists are being blamed for the sins of their governments.
Frequent accusations and finger-pointing games have further reduced the chances of tracing the viral origin.
Global cooperation is the cornerstone of effective pandemic prevention, but we are in danger of destroying rather than building relationships. We are probably less prepared for a pandemic than in 2019. Despite political constraints and salty media, there has been an increase in a natural animal origin for SARS-CoV-2 over the past two years. Denying it puts us all at risk.
tags: wuhan, wuhan lab
First Published: 15 August 2022, 17:09 IST