Critical new path of coronavirus: To the raccoon dogs at Booth No. 29 in Wuhan

Critical new path of coronavirus: To the raccoon dogs at Booth No. 29 in Wuhan

raccoon dog Pictures of cages containing, among other things, raccoon dogs appeared at booth No. 29 in the Wuhan market.Getty Images

Draw the first cases of this disease that would later be called Covid-19 on the map and this is what you get: a kind of expanding oil slick. Not from the Wuhan Virology Lab – but from the Wuhan Grand Fresh Market, 33 kilometers away. Or, more precisely, in the West Hall of this market, as you enter, the ninth lane on the right.

There, in booth number 29, it may have happened, scientists from Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Belgium and Rotterdam, among others, wrote in a statement. intensive studyAvailable as an online pre-release. The photo the Canadians took by chance from the booth five years ago shows cages containing, among other things, raccoon dogs. Despite China’s assured assurances that there is absolutely no trade in live animals on the market.


Now it turns out that the stall site of at least five samples infected with sars-cov-2, the coronavirus, almost all of them are on objects that have direct contact with animals: a device with which dead animals are stripped of feathers or fur, carts, a worksheet, a cage. Silent witnesses to the horrific treatment of animals, which in November or December 2019 may have caused the largest natural disaster for humans in generations.

Let it be just a booth away, or another animal: It must have started in this corner of the market, says Marion Koopmans, one of the authors. “There was a contamination hotspot here, there are samples that tested positive from the market, and we know live animals were traded in November and December. How close would you like to go?

search It reads like a detective novel. Canadian biologists who have been mapping the black market in Wuhan since 2014 have provided photographs and maps of the animals that were traded there. Epidemiologists have drawn up “heat maps” of early cases of the disease, and colored spot maps from which you can see the spread of the virus. Others dug into virus samples that Chinese researchers took at the market shortly after the outbreak and found photos of the market left by animal activists online.

mountain marmot

This illustrates what China has always denied: there was already a trade in corona-sensitive mammals on the big market. At least ten species, perhaps eighteen, were sold in a corner of West Hall at the end of 2019: from hare to raccoon, from bamboo rat to porcupine, and from red fox to mountain marmot. And this would undoubtedly also be the animal that brought us the aura, which was struck by bats somewhere outside the city.

It also appears that the virus has jumped into humans not once, but twice, according to another puzzle piece, the virus’ genetic family tree. Perhaps due to the involvement of a group of animals where the virus has been around for a while, Koopmans explains, just as several slightly different ‘brothers’ of the virus were soon passed on among minks in Holland and Denmark.

A security guard stands in front of a new market in Wuhan where the coronavirus was found, January 2020. Image AFP

A security guard stands in front of the fresh market in Wuhan where the coronavirus was found, January 2020.AFP photo

Microbiologist Mattis Welkers at UMC Amsterdam reacts with enthusiasm. After reading the research, he replied, “That’s a really great job, it’s not more beautiful than this.” “It’s safe to say that kills the lab theory,” he says, hinting at the still-vocal idea that the virus may have escaped from the lab.


Wilkers recalls that the previous SARS virus also spread to humans via the wildlife trade – the civet cat was the source at the time. “The scientific community has now shown very clearly where the problem is coming from and what are the risks of these types of markets,” he says. “Now it is up to politicians and society to say what we are going to do about it.”

In China, they have not yet reached that stage, Koopmans fears. She would have preferred to search the samples taken in the market at the time for the animal’s DNA, in order to trace the fingerprints of the animal species at the base. But China did not release that data.

What also does not give hope is the trade of the game in China itself. according to Just posted analysis Resurrected after 2020. “With civet, porcupine, you name it,” Koopmans says. “Viruses come out, you see them go from one type to another again. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned much in this regard.

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