COVID-19: Day 100 since the Wuhan market closed — where are the animals and their virus test results?  

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The following is a guest post by Daniel Lucey, M.D. MPH, FIDSA, FACP

Dr. Daniel Lucey

Dr. Daniel Lucey, who has responded to, and monitored information on outbreaks since 2001, has provided a series of updates and analysis on what is now the COVID-19 pandemic in Science Speaks posts since Jan. 6, first published Jan. 7. This is his 20th update on questions raised by the continued spread of, and responses to the virus that causes COVID-19.

April 8, 2020 

What did the “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” state with regard to the Wuhan Huanan Wholesale seafood market?

“Early cases identified in Wuhan are believed to be have acquired infection from a zoonotic source as many reported visiting or working in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. As of 25 February, an animal source has not yet been identified”. (p. 10 of 40 of Feb. 28 WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus 2019 Report).

How many days have passed since the Jan. 1 closure of this Wuhan Huanan Market?

100 days have passed since the market was closed.

What has China reported over the past 100 days about the results of testing for the SARS-CoV-2 in any of the many animals in this Wuhan Market?

Nothing.

What were the sources and types of wildlife species sold at this Market?

Undisclosed.

 Will China ever disclose this information about the animals and virus results?

Unknown.

 Why has China not disclosed this information about the animals?

Unknown.

What did this Joint WHO-China Report list as the first item under “Knowledge Gaps?

Knowledge gaps and key questions to be answered to guide control strategies include:

Source of infection

  • Animal origin and natural reservoir of the virus
  • Human-animal interface of the original event
  • Early cases whose exposure could not be identified”

(p. 36 of 40 of the WHO-China Joint Mission).

Where was the “destination of the animals after the market was closed” and the results of “environmental sampling” from this Wuhan Seafood Market AND OTHER AREA MARKETS?

“COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. From phylogenetics analyses undertaken with available full genome sequences, bats appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19 virus, but the intermediate host(s) has not yet been identified. However, three important areas of work are already underway in China to inform our understanding of the zoonotic origin of this outbreak. These include early investigations of cases with symptom onset in Wuhan throughout December 2019, environmental sampling from the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market and other area markets, and the collection of detailed records on the source and type of wildlife species sold at the Huanan market and the destination of those animals after the market was closed.” (p. 8 of 40 of the WHO-China Joint Mission Report February 28).

Why is it critically important that China immediately share all available information on the origins, testing and location of animals from the Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market?

Of the many reasons, only three are emphasized here:

(1) To guide immediate efforts to control this virus at its naturally-occurring animal source in China and anywhere else in the world where the infected animal species exist;

(2)  To prevent any unrecognized ongoing animal-to-human “spillover,” or animal-to-animal spread, of this virus in the world, as well as any potential re-emergence of SARS-CoV-2;

(3) To improve the human species ability to anticipate, recognize, and act to prevent, mitigate, and stop the emergence of future novel coronaviruses causing pneumonia ( # 4 and # 5, and # 6) that are certain to come following the initial # 1, # 2, #3 named: “SARS-CoV” 2002-2003, “MERS-CoV” 2012-2020 ongoing, and “SARS-CoV-2” causing the COVID-19 Pandemic (2019—).

Daniel Lucey, M.D. MPH, FIDSA, FACP, is an infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center, a senior scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neil Institute, Anthropology Research Associate, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee.He has served as a volunteer medical responder to outbreaks that included the West Africa Ebola crisis. He has collected information on outbreaks starting in 2001 with cases of anthrax in 2001, and including smallpox vaccination 2002, SARS 2003, H5N1 Flu 2004, MERS in 2013, and Ebola in April, 2014, He has gathered, and  updated information on the spread of the coronavirus Jan. 6.

 

 

19 thoughts on “COVID-19: Day 100 since the Wuhan market closed — where are the animals and their virus test results?  

  1. Steven M Seidenfeld, MD

    In the original epi reports, since there were initial cases reported in the community prior to the individuals with contact to the Wuhan wet market, isn’t it possible that the market operated as an “amplifier” of the outbreak rather than the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

    Reply
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