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New Samples Point Towards Raccoon Dogs Sold at Wet Markets as Possible Host of Coronavirus

This month will mark three years since the COVID-19 outbreak. On the virus’s three-year anniversary, scientists believe they are closer than ever to discovering the cause of the global pandemic. DNA from raccoon dogs sold at the Huanan wildlife market points towards the mammal acting as an intermediate host of the virus.


The Wuhan wet markets have been a focal point of scientific investigation ever since the outbreak in 2019, yet samples taken from the Chinese Centre for Global Diseases have only been publicised in the last month following a three-year long delay. Scientists believe that discovering the exact cause of the virus lies out of their reach due to how far down the line they have gotten with the investigation. The recent DNA sample findings however do bring some new hope to the ongoing global investigation.


Raccoon dogs are just one of the many wild animals slaughtered and sold at the Huanan wildlife market as beavers, porcupines and baby crocodiles also feature as commonly sold delicacies. The Huanan wildlife market shortly closed after the outbreak of the virus and many put a stop to the selling of wildlife altogether following cries of closure from the general public. Many still function across China today as prominent sources of food as it is the livelihood for hundreds of working individuals.


The origins of the virus have been speculated over for many years, with rumours swirling around bats as potential hosts followed by the possibility of a virus leak in a Chinese Laboratory. The Chinese government swiftly shut down these rumours claiming that a lab leak would be geographically impossible due to the positioning of the leak in relation to the wet markets. On the hunt for something or someone to blame, the cause of the virus has caused political and controversial outrage from all corners of the world.


Dr Florence Debarre, a leading researcher at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences discovered the genetic sequences pointing towards raccoon dogs as a potential intermediate host after conducting research to discover which species matched the samples found in the same location as the virus.


All of the evidence surrounding the recent findings supports yet doesn’t strongly prove the connection between the virus and humans, with many scientists still in disagreement over the true cause of the virus. As the samples were taken from the actual wet market site and not from the racoon dogs themselves, many are still unsure about the relationship between the wild animal and the disease.  Even if the raccoon dogs are suspected to have played a huge part in transmitting the virus onto humans, the biggest task would be proving the link between humans and the wild animal in itself.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Edited By Aminat Akintobi

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