COVID-19 most likely spread from animal market in Wuhan, China, new studies say

(ABC 6 News) – Two new, and now peer-reviewed, studies published in the journal of Science conclude that an animal market in Wuhan, China, is the most likely source of the virus that sparked the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been a lot of debate over where the virus began to spread and whether it was released from a bio-lab near the market. But, the researchers make strong claims that all evidence points to the animal market.

Here is part of the official summary:

“The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, was identified as a likely source of cases in early reports but later this conclusion became controversial. We show the earliest known COVID-19 cases from December 2019, including those without reported direct links, were geographically centered on this market. We report that live SARS-CoV-2 susceptible mammals were sold at the market in late 2019 and, within the market, SARS-CoV-2-positive environmental samples were spatially associated with vendors selling live mammals. While there is insufficient evidence to define upstream events, and exact circumstances remain obscure, our analyses indicate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred via the live wildlife trade in China and show that the Huanan market was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The study could not pinpoint which species of animal might have been the host of the virus, but came up with some suspects that researchers believe were sold around the time the virus broke out into the human population. Suspects include the “racoon dog” and “amur hedgehog.” The researchers also considered badgers and foxes known to be sold at the market. But, the study does not mention bats, which has been commonly blamed for the virus.

The researchers also say if the virus had not come from the live animal market, then in a city of 11 million people, the outbreak would have been more likely to show up in a range of other places around the city including senior care centers, shopping centers, workplaces and universities. But despite all of those places having more significant people passing through them, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market seems to be the epicenter.

The study can be read HERE.