Markets that sold animals — some dead, some alive — in December 2019 have emerged as a probable source of the coronavirus pandemic in a major investigation organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). That investigation winnowed out alternative hypotheses on when and where the pandemic arose, and it concluded that the virus probably didn’t spread widely before December or escape from a laboratory. The investigation report, released today, also takes a deep look at markets’ role — including the Huanan market in Wuhan, to which many of the first known COVID-19 infections are linked.
Nature | 6 min read
Reference: WHO report: Origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
After reading the 320-page report on the international investigation into COVID-19’s origins, I came away wanting more studies on the market-origin hypothesis. Fourteen countries apparently felt the same, posting a letter after the report went live, requesting “phase 2” studies and demanding greater transparency from China so that the next study won’t take another year. The WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, might agree. He wasn’t directly involved with the study, but noted how difficult it was for the team to procure data — and their limited access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Amy Maxmen, Nature senior reporter
Reference: Joint Statement on the WHO-Convened COVID-19 Origins Study
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech say their coronavirus vaccine is highly effective in adolescents. A clinical trial found, among 2,260 children 12 to 15 years old, no symptomatic infections and no serious side effects. There were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group. The data have not yet been published or peer reviewed. The companies plan to submit the data to regulators to extend emergency use approval for the jab, “with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year”.
The New York Times | 6 min read
Reference: Pfizer and BioNTech press release