Jesse Bloom, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, published an article saying he found genetic sequences taken from the first cases of coronavirus in China had been deleted from a National Institutes of Health database. United States.
He was able to retrieve the files from cloud storage only to find that some of the early cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan are genetically different from the variants that eventually spread to cause the pandemic.
Bloom said the data does not reveal whether the virus spreads naturally from animals to humans or if it is the result of a lab leak.
“This study does not provide any additional strong evidence for a natural zoonosis or a laboratory accident,” Bloom told CNN. “On the contrary, it shows that there are additional sequences relatively early in the outbreak which are still unknown, and in some cases have mutations which suggest they are probably more evolutionary than the viruses from the Huanan seafood market.” . “
In a preprinted article posted to bioRxiv, which has not yet been peer reviewed, Mr Bloom wrote: “I recover deleted files from Google Cloud and rebuild partial 13 footage. early epidemic viruses.
“Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences in the context of carefully annotated existing data suggests that the Huanan seafood market sequences that are the subject of the WHO-China joint report are not fully representative of viruses in Wuhan at the start. of the epidemic.
“Instead, the progenitor of the known SARS-CoV-2 sequences likely contained three mutations compared to viruses on the market that made it more similar to the relatives of the SARS-CoV-2 bat coronavirus. “
“First, the fact that this dataset has been deleted should make us skeptical about sharing any other relevant early footage from Wuhan. We already know that many laboratories in China have ordered the destruction of the first samples, ”he wrote.
“The second major implication is that it may be possible to gain additional information on the early spread of # SARSCoV2 in Wuhan even if efforts for more field investigations are hampered. “
The footage was removed in June 2020 at the request of the Chinese investigator who originally submitted it in March of the same year, the NIH confirmed to CNN. He said it was standard practice to allow this.