Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human cases of COVID-19 were identified show raccoon dog DNA comingled with the virus, adding evidence to the theory that the virus originated from animals, not from a lab, international experts say.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
How the coronavirus emerged remains unclear. Many scientists believe it most likely jumped from animals to people, as many other viruses have in the past, at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. But Wuhan is home to several labs involved in collecting and studying coronaviruses, fueling theories scientists say are plausible that the virus may have leaked from one.
The new findings do not settle the question, and they have not been formally reviewed by other experts or published in a peer-reviewed journal.
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