CHINA could unleash another pandemic as researchers discovered eighteen “high-risk” viruses lurking in wet markets.
A wet market in Wuhan where traders sold live mammals, reptiles and fish was previously linked to the first coronavirus epidemic back in 2019.
According to British scientist Dr Eddie Holmes, Chinese experts had highlighted the risk of a virus “transferred” from animals to humans five years before the onset of the pandemic, after visiting the Huanan fish market.
And now experts have warned that the wild species that are traded sold and consumed in China’s wet markets are a “pandemic waiting to happen,” reports the Tight deadlines.
A new study released on November 12 has identified 71 mammalian viruses, including 18 high-risk viruses that could be dangerous to humans and other animals.
According to the researchers, the most concerning were the microbes found in civets, a small nocturnal badger-like animal that was the species that carried the SARS coronavirus from bats to humans in China in 2002.
Although the research has found nothing resembling Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, they found that the strains carried by bats can infect other animals which could lead to dangerous outbreaks.
‘PANDEMIC WAITING TO HAPPEN’
Study co-author Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney, said, “This study highlights exactly why the wildlife trade and live animal markets are a pandemic accident waiting to happen.
“This paper also shows that humans regularly transmit their viruses to other animals. There is clearly two-way virus trafficking.”
Scientists have also identified interspecies transmission of animal viruses, the most concerning being the transmission of a bat coronavirus to a civet.
Professor Holmes added: ‘A further leap of species from civet to man could easily trigger a major outbreak.
“Animals sold as game in live animal markets carry a wide range of viral pathogens.
“The right virus in the right animal at the right time could easily trigger a global pandemic.”
It comes as experts had previously predicted that pandemics could be spark every five years from “zoonotic” diseases infections that jump from animals to humans.
Experts warned that the the next pandemic could be on the black death scale, which is estimated to have killed 75 million people.
The origins of COVID-19 have not yet been determined.
There are two main theories being investigated: the virus crossed with humans at the Huanan Fish Market or escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The World Health Organization report on the origins of the pandemic had suggested that transmission from pangolins and bats was the most likely source.
However, new evidence emerged has shown that no species were sold in Wuhan before Covid appeared.
The researchers suggested that Covid may have been designed to be hyper-infectious – but China has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
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