So the study involved here is as yet unpublished. The Atlantic first reported on it, but that means paywall, as is the case with The NY Times as well, here’s a free copy of the Times…
An international team of virus experts said on Thursday that they had found genetic data from a market in Wuhan,
“The jumbling together of genetic material from the virus and the animal does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected. And even if a raccoon dog had been infected, it would not be clear that the animal had spread the virus to people. Another animal could have passed the virus to people, or someone infected with the virus could have spread the virus to a raccoon dog.
But the analysis did establish that raccoon dogs — fluffy animals that are related to foxes and are known to be able to transmit the coronavirus — deposited genetic signatures in the same place where genetic material from the virus was left, three scientists involved in the analysis said. That evidence, they said, was consistent with a scenario in which the virus had spilled into humans from a wild animal.
A report with the full details of the international research team’s findings has not yet been published. Their analysis was first reported by The Atlantic
The new evidence is sure to provide a jolt to the debate over the pandemic’s origins, even if it does not resolve the question of how it began.
In recent weeks, the so-called lab leak theory, which posits that the coronavirus emerged from a research lab in Wuhan, has gained traction thanks to a new intelligence assessment
from the U.S. Department of Energy and hearings
led by the new Republican House leadership.
But the genetic data from the market offers some of the most tangible evidence yet of how the virus could have spilled into people from wild animals outside a lab. It also suggests that Chinese scientists have given an incomplete account of evidence that could fill in details about how the virus was spreading at the Huanan market.
Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport who was not involved in the study, said the findings showed that “the samples from the market that had early Covid lineages in them were contaminated with DNA reads of wild animals.”
Dr. Kamil said that fell short of conclusive evidence that an infected animal had set off the pandemic. But, he said, “it really puts the spotlight on the illegal animal trade in an intimate way.”