The wet market in Wuhan remains the most likely source for the origin of COVID-19 according to Maria Van Kerkhove.
Maria Van Kerkhove, who is the top infectious disease epidemiologist, said several studies since March 2021 have identified animal species that were sold at China’s Wuhan markets that are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 Covid infection.
As per Kerkhove, the Huanan market in China’s Wuhan district indeed played a “very important role” in this pandemic, and she would urge further studies continue to be needed to trace back animals sold there prior to the first detected cases.
Kerkhove said, however, there’s still much uncertainty and that more research in this area should be welcomed. “We need more serology in specific populations and to ensure we further study earlier suspected cases into November 2019 and possibly earlier,” she added.
Some virologists say that the new evidence pointing to the Huanan market doesn’t rule out an alternative hypothesis. The virologists have stated that the market could have just been the location of a massive spreading event, in which an infected person spreads the virus to many other people, rather than it being the source of the outbreak.
“Analysis-wise, this is excellent work, but it remains open to interpretation,” says Vincent Munster, a virologist at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a division of the National Institutes of Health, in Hamilton, Montana.
He says searching for SARS-CoV-2 and antibodies against it in blood samples collected from animals sold at the market, and from people who sold animals at the market, could provide more definitive evidence of COVID-19’s origins.
The number of positive samples from the market suggests an animal source, Munster says. But he is frustrated that more thorough investigations haven’t already been conducted: “We are talking about a pandemic that has upended the lives of so many people.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LA TIMES