Americans deleted data in a database of early coronavirus cases per the request from Chinese scientists.
The Financial Times reported yesterday:
Records of early Covid-19 cases in Wuhan were deleted from a US database at the request of Chinese scientists, American officials have confirmed.
A team of academics from Wuhan, where the first documented cases of Covid-19 appeared, submitted sequences of the virus that causes the disease to a US-based archive in March 2020.
Three months later, however, they asked for those sequences to be removed and the data were deleted, the US National Institutes of Health said on Wednesday, confirming the results of an investigation by biologist Jesse Bloom.
CNN reported of the incident:
Scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic might be working with the wrong samples, because some early samples of the virus submitted by a Chinese researcher were deleted from a shared database, an expert in the evolution of viruses says.
Jesse Bloom, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, said he found genetic sequences taken from early coronavirus cases in China that were deleted from a US National Institutes of Health database. Examination shows some of the early cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan are different, genetically, from the variants that eventually spread to cause the pandemic.
The sequences themselves do not shed any more light on the renewed debate about whether the virus spread naturally from animals to humans, or was the result of a laboratory leak,Bloom told CNN.