Virologist Dr Eddie Holmes has recounted the time he visited Wuhan’s Hunan seafood market during an investigative trip to look for new pathogens that could cause a pandemic in China. During the 2014 visit, the market was referred to as the kind of place where a virus could “spillover” from animals to humans.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Dr Holmes said: “The Wuhan CDC took us there, and here’s the key bit, because the discussion was: ‘where could a disease emerge?’
“Well, here’s the place – that’s why I went.
“I’ve been to a few of these markets, but this was a big one – it felt like a disease incubator, exactly the sort of place you would expect a disease to emerge”.
The scientist recalled seeing “crates of wildlife stacked on top of each other.”
One of the species he noticed, raccoon dogs, are known to be prone to carrying Covid-19.
A study published by bioRxiv which has not been peer-reviewed stated that raccoon dogs “are kept for fur production, in particular in China, and were suspected as potential intermediate host for both SARS-CoV6 and SARS-CoV-2.”
It added: “Rapid, high level virus shedding, in combination with minor clinical signs and pathohistological changes, seroconversion and absence of viral adaptation highlight the role of raccoon dogs as a potential intermediate host.
“The results are highly relevant for control strategies and emphasise the risk that raccoon dogs may represent a potential SARS-CoV-2 reservoir.