Top Virologist Who Visited a Wuhan Market in 2014 Said He Found
As soon as Edward Holmes saw the eyes of the dark-ringed raccoon dogs peering at him through the bars of the iron cage, he knew he had to seize the moment.
This was in October 2014. Dr. Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney, came to China to study hundreds of animal species, searching for new types of viruses.
During a visit to Wuhan, a commercial hub of 11 million people, scientists from thecity’ss Center for Disease Control and Prevention brought it to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. In stall after stall of a poorly ventilated room, he saw live wild animals – snakes, badgers, muskrats, birds that were sold for food. But it was the raccoon dogs that made him pull out his iPhone.
As one of the world’s experts on virus evolution, Dr. Holmes knew how viruses could jump from one species to another—sometimes with deadly consequences. The SARS outbreak in 2002 was a bat coronavirus in China that infected some wild mammals before infecting humans. Among the main suspects in this intermediate animal: is a furry raccoon dog.”You can’t find a better textbook example of the emergence of a disease waiting in the wings,” Dr. Holmes, 57, said.
The photos disappeared from his memory until the last day of 2019. When Dr. Holmes was browsing Twitter from his home in Sydney, he learned of a disturbing flash in Wuhan, SARS-like pneumonia with early cases associated with the Huanan market. Raccoon dogshe thought.”It was a pandemic biding its time, and then it fucking happened,” he said.