An Australian scientist claims Chinese health officials knew Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market was a disease risk years before the coronavirus pandemic started.
Professor Eddie Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, said, ‘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.’
He was taken on a tour of the market by public health officials in 2014, as part of a mission to find viruses or bacteria that might cause a serious outbreak in the future.
Huanan food market was connected to the Covid-19 outbreak right at the offset, as officials found around a third of the first 168 people to be infected had recently visited it.
A joint WHO-Chinese investigation into the origins of Covid-19, published last month, also said markets in Wuhan selling live and dead animals were a likely source of the current pandemic.
Professor Holmes said, ‘In my mind, the wildlife trade is the most likely source of it.’ He added that the ‘role of that market is still uncertain but there was clearly a lot of transmission.’