25-06-21 10:29:00, Coronavirus
It “seems likely that the sequences were deleted to obscure their existence.”
23 hours ago
24 June, 2021
kirstypargeter / Getty Images
A scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle claims to have located genetic sequences from early coronavirus cases in China and says that they show the virus was circulating in Wuhan before any cases were linked to the infamous wet market.
Virologist Jesse Bloom has over 30 samples that are genetically more similar to bat coronaviruses than any other previously known sequences. The samples were originally submitted as part of a Wuhan University project.
Bloom says he recovered the data that was deleted from a US National Institutes of Health database by searching on Google Cloud. The NIH allowed the deletion of data from its databases in June 2020 by a Chinese scientist who originally submitted it, according to reports.
The data then also disappeared from there China National GeneBank where it had previously resided.
It turns out that mention of the sequencing project in question (PRJNA612766) also disappeared from China National GeneBank (CNGB) shortly after it was removed from the NIH Sequence Read Archive. (2/n)
— Bloom Lab (@jbloom_lab) June 23, 2021
It “seems likely that the sequences were deleted to obscure their existence,” Bloom notes in the paper.
Bloom also notes that the finding indicates that samples being used by the WHO and other bodies to investigate the origins of the pandemic could be incomplete or inaccurate.
The study “shows that there are additional sequences from relatively early in the outbreak that are still unknown, and in some cases have mutations that suggest they are probably evolutionarily older than the viruses from the Huanan Seafood Market,” Bloom said in an email to CNN.
“They’re three steps more similar to the bat coronaviruses than the viruses from the Huanan fish market,” Bloom outlined.
Bloom’s paper has not been peer reviewed, but already seems to be annoying other scientists cited in the CNN report, with microbial pathogenesis professor Andrew Preston stating that Bloom “appears to be pointing towards a deliberate cover up by Chinese authorities of early sequence data from Wuhan.”
Yet that directly correlates with reports that initial genetic sequences of COVID-19 were deleted,