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China's Wildlife Trade Behind Coronavirus? Expert Team Traces Link to Huanan Food Market for Answers

Members of the World Health Organization team depart from the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital after a field visit in Wuhan.

Members of the World Health Organization team depart from the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital after a field visit in Wuhan.

The path of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Coronavirus before it emerged in central China in December 2019 remains a mystery to experts.

Scientists tracing the origin of coronavirus believe that they have identified a possible source of transmission and suggest it to be China’s thriving wildlife trade.

The finding from the experts of WHO and Chinese government are expected to be similar to the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which is a bat borne disease that killed 800 people, Bloomberg reported.

The path of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Coronavirus before it emerged in central China in December 2019 remains a mystery to experts.

Peter Daszak, a zoologist who was part of the joint research effort, which visited Wuhan earlier this year say that live animals susceptible to coronavirus infection were present at the Huanan food market in downtown Wuhan wherr the first major Covid-19 outbreak was reported. He also said that it’s possible they acted as conduits for the virus, carrying it from bats to humans.

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“The main conclusion from this stage of the work — and it’s not over yet of course — is that the exact same pathway by which SARS emerged was alive and well for the emergence of Covid,” Daszak adds.

The report which was to be released earlier was delayed due to political wrangling and it is unlikely to be conclusive.

While the search for origin has became a political issue among the global players, Daszak says he thinks the scientific process will prevail.

Another scientist Dominic Dwyer said it’s possible the virus was introduced through an infected animal that was sold at the Huanan market or somewhere else in Wuhan.

However question remains about the market’s ultimate role. Dwyer adds that current evidence suggests the market is where SARS-CoV-2 was amplified, and not necessarily its birthplace.

Scientists also said that the marker was a perfect place for the outbreak since it was crowded, had lots of stalls, lots of animal products and ventilation and drainage are a bit suboptimal.

first published:March 21, 2021, 09:29 IST