Speed Reads

too late

Researchers believe it's too late to investigate Wuhan market for coronavirus' animal origins

It's probably too late for researchers to find the origins of the coronavirus by investigating the Huanan market in Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have first jumped from an animal to humans last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Per the Journal, Beijing appears to be stalling international efforts to find the species, and Chinese officials have yet to share data from animals they sampled. Nailing down the species is considered a crucial step not only because it can help prevent the virus jumping from animals to humans again, but also because conspiracy theories about the virus' origins are gaining steam in the U.S. and China, the Journal notes.

But evidence from the market has most likely been contaminated or inadvertently destroyed, said Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit based in New York that helped establish the likely origins of the coronavirus that caused SARS. Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary medicine at the City University of Hong Kong, agreed that it's "now too late" to investigate the market, which means "we will have to rely on other indirect evidence, and therefore proof of cause will be close to impossible."

Daszak was a little more optimistic, saying the next step is to test widely for the virus in wild animals and humans who come into contact with them. The process will take some time, he said, and require cooperation between China and other countries, "but we will get there." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.