The suggestion by the Chinese regime that the CCP virus originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which sold seafood, wild animals, and fresh produce, is contradicted by an internal investigative report dated Jan. 22 that was reviewed recently by The Epoch Times.
While some of the city’s first cases were connected to the market, the earliest documented patient wasn’t. Scientists still haven’t determined the virus’s origin; U.S. officials, citing intelligence, said the virus was likely naturally occurring, but may have leaked from a virology research lab in Wuhan.
As the world sought to uncover the source of the virus outbreak, Chinese authorities refused offers of assistance from the United States and other countries in research, while keeping mum about their investigations.
In January, Gao Fu, director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claimed twice that the virus came from wild animals sold at the Huanan market. At a Jan. 22 press conference, Gao explained that the virus likely first infected people through contact with wild animals and the environment that the wild animals were in. Then, the virus began mutating and became capable of human-to-human transmission.
“The original source of the virus is wild animals that were sold at the [Huanan] seafood market,” Gao said firmly.
Then, in March, amid intense international scrutiny over China’s mishandling of the crisis, Chinese officials began pushing the unfounded conspiracy theory that the U.S. military introduced the virus to Wuhan.
However, The Epoch Times recently obtained a copy of the CDC’s investigative report of the Huanan market, which indicated that authorities took 585 environment samples from different areas of the market and found that 33 of them tested positive for the virus. The positive samples came from shops located throughout the market, as well as surfaces, walls, and tools used in connection with the animals.
Animals and the environment of farms that supplied livestock to the market were also evaluated, with all 139 samples testing negative.
While the report didn’t provide conclusive evidence as to whether the virus originated from animals sold at the market, it revealed that authorities weren’t forthcoming about its research and were too quick to declare the virus’s provenance, said Dr. Sean Lin, former lab director at the viral disease branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
The investigative report was drafted by the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention at China’s CDC and reported to the National Health Commission on Jan. 22.
Authorities conducted three tests: rRT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) nucleic acid test, which has been widely used to test for the CCP virus in China; the NGS (next-generation sequencing) test; and the SMRT (single molecule real-time) test.
The latter two are nucleic acid tests for samples taken from the environment.
The Huanan Market, which is located close to the Hankou railway station, a major transportation hub, had more than 1,000 shops before it was closed by authorities on Jan. 1. The market sold pork, seafood, spices, and other food items.
The 33 positive samples came from floor surfaces, doors, weight balances, trolleys, walls, trash bins, refrigerators, shoes, and gloves at 31 vendor shops. About half of the shops that had positive samples were those selling seafood and freshwater fish.
Twelve of the shops were connected with others, or were on opposite sides of a corridor where customers would be walking and shopping; the other 21 shops were located in disparate areas of the market.
“We highly suspect that the virus outbreak was related to the wild animals’ trading” because “there are several shops selling wild animals in the area where the 12 connected shops were located,” the report concluded.
But interestingly, the report indicates that 139 environment and animal samples from farms—which supplied bamboo rats, porcupines, turkeys, rabbits, and other animals to the market—all came back negative.
Chinese state-run media previously reported in January that the market also sold marmots, snakes, frogs, hedgehogs, peacocks, pheasants, civet cats, and meles meles (a type of badger).
Bamboo rats have become a popular meat food in China in recent years. Authorities took samples from 24 bamboo rats sold at the Qiyimen Fresh Market, another market in Wuhan where wild animals are sold, located near the Wuchang railway station. Those also came back negative.
China CDC previously announced on Jan. 26 that it picked up animal samples from the Huanan market between Jan. 1 to Jan. 12 for an investigation, but never announced the test results. The CDC didn’t mention the animal testing in its internal investigation report.
Questions From Specialist
Lin noted that one of the Huanan market environment samples—an epilator used to remove hair or feathers from animals—tested positive. He said that likely indicates the virus left on the machine came from an animal.
He pointed out that previous studies have discovered that dogs and cats were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong. Lin urged Chinese authorities to release the animal testing results so the public can understand the real picture of the virus outbreak.
Regarding the environment samples, Lin said authorities should have investigated which shops or areas were visited by the first COVID-19 patients diagnosed in January. That would have provided a better clue as to which areas of the market were infected with the virus.
“It should tell people which sample from which shop tested positive, and who visited that shop was diagnosed with COVID-19 … combining the patients’ tracking information and the environment testing report,” Lin said.
He noted that with the report’s inconclusive findings, the China CDC director shouldn’t have been so quick to determine in January that the virus came from wild animals, calling such actions “malfeasance” and “concealing the truth.” He urged authorities to release all related research documents to the public.
Recently, Gao also backtracked from his initial claim.
During a political meeting on May 25, he told the media that, “when we look at the whole process now, the virus should have existed before” infections related to the seafood market were reported.
He claimed that he changed his view because virus research is still new and he was still studying it.