Imported frozen food may play a role in the emergency of SARS-CoV-2 in China, said a recent research conducted by British and Chinese scientists and published in US magazine Science.
The researchers reviewed the SARS-associated coronavirus and discussed possible animal origin of the novel coronavirus, reaching the conclusion that “animal-to-human transmission associated with infected live animals is the most likely cause of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to the study report titled “The animal origin of SARS-CoV-2.”
“However, the massive scale of cold-chain supply … suggests that frozen susceptible-animal carcasses, either for human or animal consumption, should not be discounted as playing a role in the emergency of SARS-CoV-2,” read the report published in late August.
The report noted that the outbreak of the African swine fever virus, which had led to a severe shortage of pork products in China in 2019, increased wildlife-animal contacts, since China imported other meat such as poultry, beef and fish products from international markets in response to the short-fall, the Xinhua news agency reported.
“The resulting increased trade of susceptible farmed animals and wildlife could have brought humans into more frequent contact with meat products and animals infected with zoonotic pathogens, including SARSr-CoVs,” it said, pointing to reports of Chinese patients who had contact with imported frozen foods, and of SARS-CoV-2 “apparently identified from frozen food, packaging, and storage surfaces.”
The scientists also called for international anti-virus cooperation, saying “humanity musk work together beyond country borders to amplify surveillance for coronavirus at the human-animal interface to minimize the threat of both established and evolving variants evading vaccines and to stop future spillover events.”