By Zara Khan — Correspondent
People are spiraling out of control when the theory of COVID-19 being the result of a lab leak in China breaks news.
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove called on Chinese officials to release all data around potential causes of COVID. “The big issue right now is that this data exists and that it is not readily available to the international community,” says Kerkhove
Researchers have reported data at a World Health Organization’s meeting proposing that a wild raccoon dog was sold at the same stall in the Huanan Seafood Market where traces of the Corona virus was found.
Kerkhove spoke up about more studies being done. “These studies have been recommended over many years, looking at the source of the animals of the market, looking at potential intermediate hosts, looking at breaches in biosafety biosecurity. These studies have yet to be conducted, and until they are conducted, until we have the data, we aren’t able to conclusively say how this pandemic began,” she said.
Virologist Angela Rasmussen wants to make clear that this data doesn’t display signs that the raccoon dog was infected at the Wuhan Market. Rasmussen called out the missing proof on the theory of the raccoon dog. “We don’t have proof of the so-called smoking raccoon dog. We just have evidence that the animals were in the same part of the market where we know there was a virus,” said Rasmussen.
Rasmussen adds that the evidence can make it more convincing. “More likely that an animal contributed the viral sequences that were in there,” she added.
The scientists proposed the idea that the animal could have been a host for the virus which led it to spread throughout the market.
The US Energy Department spoke out about the lab leak in Wuhan being the likely cause of COVID. Although those who have studied it have said the virus lept from live animals to humans at the market. A spokesperson for the department stated on ABC News that the agency “continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of COVID-19, as the President directed.”
Other scientists, like Dr. Robert Redfield, support the idea that the virus escaped from a lab, specifically pointing to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “Based on my initial analysis of the data, I came to believe and I still believe today that it indicates that COVID-19 more likely was the result of an accidental lab leak than a result of a natural spillover event” said Redfield.
Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, says what is found on the findings of the virus should not be politicized. “China has always actively supported and participated in global scientific traceability laboratory interventions, that is, it is impossible for China and WHO to be a joint expert,” said Ning.
“The parties concerned should stop speculating on the arguments leaked by the laboratory and stop discrediting China from politicizing the traceability issue,” added Ning.
The World Health Organization-led team gave a range of options in its March 2021 report, calling the lab leak “extremely unlikely” but offering techniques for further investigation.
Ever since, the WHO has become increasingly open minded to the lab leak possibility. In July 2021, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that ruling out a lab leak theory was “premature” and recommended an examination of the Wuhan labs in more studies.