Scientists released two in-depth studies on Saturday that again point to a market in Wuhan, China as the source of the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported.
The two reports, totaling around 150 pages, have not yet been published in a scientific journal.
Read: CDC set to ease COVID face mask advice on Friday and Canada authorizes first plant-based vaccine
Researchers analyzed data from various sources to find out how the virus first took hold. They concluded that the coronavirus was present in live mammals sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in late 2019.
Even in the early days of the pandemic, speculation – and much cultural insensitivity and racism – emerged suggesting Chinese “wet markets” were a likely source of origin. Markets offer wild animals – endangered species in some cases and sometimes sold alive – as cuisine.
The new research suggests the virus has spread to people working or shopping at the market. And the researchers said they found no support for an alternative hypothesis that the coronavirus emerged from a lab in Wuhan.
US President Joe Biden had ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the emergence of the virus. Biden said US intelligence is focused on two scenarios – whether the coronavirus comes from human contact with an infected animal or from a lab accident.
The interaction between humans and animals, often forced due to biodiversity loss in addition to market sales, is neither exclusive to this epidemic nor likely to become less controversial in the absence of intervention in the coming years, environmentalists have warned since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t miss: Cookies and wet markets: Here’s where the coronavirus and climate change collide
Most scientists see a link between deforestation and habitat modification by pandemics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals.
From Zika to West Nile, from Ebola to SARS, from Nipah to COVID-19, deforestation has played a role in many of the world’s worst viral outbreaks, as habitat loss brings animals closer to humans.
Read: Each whale is worth 2 million dollars? Why it’s time to add the value of nature to GDP
“Due to human activities, we are greatly increasing our exposure to pathogens to which we have never been exposed, and therefore we are not ready to react. We do this in two main ways: by bringing wildlife too close to us [such as markets]or we get too close to wildlife [by way of overdevelopment]said Daniel Mira-Salama, senior environmental specialist at the World Bank’s Beijing office.