Chinese data on coronavirus screening in animals highlighted for more study: report
Scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified Chinese data pertaining to the screening of animals for coronavirus to be investigated for further study, sources close to the matter told CNN.
The data, which was collected around the same time the COVID-19 pandemic began to emerge, received very little attention from global experts at the time of its release. However, sources told CNN that the data is now being considered as part of WHO’s calls for more transparency from China and for the WHO team’s desire to return to the country for more studies.
The data was included in WHO’s 200-page annex that was part of with the organization’s panel in March. The information has to do with the storage and destruction of COVID-19 samples from humans, a severe 2019 influenza outbreak that occurred around the same time that COVID-19 cases were first reported, and also the disclosure that the first people to have contracted the virus had been in contact with 28 food and animal markets in December.
According to sources on the WHO team, scientists hope to clarify the information in the WHO’s annex. According to the data, samples from 69 different kinds of animals were collected and tested for COVID-19 on Dec. 7, 2019, though all were found to be negative, CNN reports, citing a statement from China’s National Health Commission (NHC).
One source told CNN that the coincidental timing of the data collection and the emergency of COVID-19 caused experts on the team to remark, “this is strange.”
According to the NHC, the data included in the WHO annex was collected from December 2019 to February 2020, “before the coronavirus outbreak, relevant departments had been actively monitoring major animal diseases in artificial breeding factories of wild animals in Hubei province.”
“As part of the active surveillance network, the wild animal samples were collected based on the wild animals’ activity routines, and other than the regular collecting and testing, those samples were stored properly as required. After the coronavirus outbreak, researchers conducted retrospective testing to those samples,” the health agency added.