GENEVA - Advisers to the World Health Organisation on Saturday urged China to release all information related to the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic after new findings were briefly shared on an international database used to track pathogens.
New sequences of the Sars-CoV-2 virus as well as additional genomic data based on samples taken from a live animal market in Wuhan, China in 2020 were briefly uploaded to the GISAID database by Chinese scientists earlier this year, allowing them to be viewed by researchers in other countries, according to the statement from the WHO’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (Sago).
The sequences suggested that raccoon dogs were present in the market and may have also been infected by the coronavirus, providing a new clue in the chain of transmission that eventually reached humans.
Access to the information was subsequently restricted “apparently to allow further data updates” by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WHO officials discussed the matter with Chinese colleagues, who explained that the new data was intended to be used to update a preprint study from 2022.
China’s CDC plans to re-submit the paper to the scientific journal Nature for publication, according to the statement.
WHO officials say such information, while not conclusive, represents a new lead into the investigation of Covid-19’s origins and should have been shared immediately.
“This data does not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
“This data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago.”
“We continue t...