A Chinese scientist has claimed that the COVID-19 virus may have originated from humans, CNN reported.
Tong Yigang of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said that the genetic sequences of viral samples taken from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan thought to be the ground zero site of the pandemic, were “almost identical” to those of patients infected with the coronavirus, suggesting that COVID-19 may have originated from humans. Tong was speaking at a press conference held by the Chinese State Council regarding research into the origin of the virus.
Tong said that between January 2020 and March 2020, more than 1,300 environmental and frozen animal samples had been taken at the market, and researchers had isolated three strains of virus from the environmental samples.
He also said there was not yet sufficient evidence to back up recent studies that had suggested racoon dogs were the origin of the COVID-19 virus, according to CNN.
A Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher, Zhou Lei, while speaking at the same event, called for global scientific collaboration in tracing the origins of the virus, saying that the site where COVID-19 was first discovered was not necessarily where it originated.
According to CNN, China has in the past been heavily criticized for blocking international investigations into the origins of the virus. Earlier this week the World Health Organization said it still did not have key data from China about the beginnings of the outbreak, a lack of disclosure the head of its program on emerging diseases said was “simply inexcusable.”
China has, however, continuously said that it has been transparent and cooperative with the WHO.
Debates surrounding the origins of the virus recently re-emerged following an assessment last month by the US Department of Energy it was most likely the result of an accident from a laboratory. But the US agency also marked it as a “low confidence” determination, according to CNN.
Zhou on Saturday refuted the lab leak theory, saying it is “extremely unlikely.”
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently (local time) said that the organization will continue pushing until it finds an answer to how the COVID-19 pandemic started, following a report suggesting it had abandoned the search.
“We need to continue to push until we get the answer,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, referring to the search for the origins of the virus that first began spreading in China in late 2019.
Ghebreyesus in January spoke with Minister Ma Xiaowei, director of China’s National Health Commission about the COVID-19 situation in the country and sought deeper cooperation on the origins of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Spoke with Minister Ma Xiaowei about the #COVID19 situation in #China. I appreciated the release of detailed information, which we request they continue to share. Asked for the sharing of further sequences and cooperation on understanding the virus origins,” WHO chief tweeted.
Providence recently reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s deployment of an army general to take charge of Wuhan labs makes it clear that Xi was never transparent about the origin of the virus and it was merely to set false narratives.