There’s a tantalizing new clue in the hunt for the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A new analysis of genetic material collected from January to March 2020 at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, has uncovered animal DNA in samples already known to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A significant amount of that DNA appears to belong to animals known as raccoon dogs, which were known to be traded at the market, according to officials with the World Health Organization, who addressed the new evidence in a news briefing on Friday.
The connection to raccoon dogs came to light after Chinese researchers shared raw genetic sequences taken from swabbed specimens collected at the market early in the pandemic. The sequences were uploaded in late January 2023, to the data sharing site GISAID, but have recently been removed.