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New study suggests possibility humans introduced COVID-19 to animals

By Zhang Zhihao | | Updated: 2023-04-08 17:16

Humans infected by the COVID-19 virus may have introduced the novel coronavirus to susceptible animals at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei province, where the first COVID-19 cases were reported, Chinese researchers said on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the journal Nature published a genome analysis of swabs collected at the market from January to March 2020. The dataset contained over 1,300 samples collected from the environment and animals present.

Tong Yigang, dean of the College of Life Science and Technology at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said in a press briefing that no animal swab samples collected had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but 73 swabs from the environment had returned positive.

After further analysis, researchers discovered that the viral genetic sequence from the environmental sample was almost identical to those collected from early patients.

“These findings suggest that the virus was introduced to the market by human carriers,” Tong said, adding that there is no definitive proof that the COVID-19 virus had originated from an animal-to-human spillover event.

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