Scientist discovers first coronavirus sequences that had been mysteriously suppressed

“This additional data will play an important role in this effort,” said Dr Worobey.

It is not known why this valuable information went missing in the first place. Scientists can request deletion of files by emailing Sequence Read Archive managers. The National Library of Medicine, which manages the archives, said all 13 sequences were deleted last summer.

“These SARS-CoV-2 sequences were submitted for publication in the SRA in March 2020 and subsequently requested to be removed by the submitting investigator in June 2020,” said Renata Myles, spokesperson for the National Institutes. of Health.

She said the investigator, whom she did not name, told record managers that the footage was being updated and would be added to a different database. But Dr Bloom has searched all the databases he knows and has yet to find them. “Obviously I can’t rule out that the footage is somewhere in another database or web page, but I couldn’t find it in any of the obvious places I looked,” he said. declared.

Three of the co-authors of the 2020 test study that produced the 13 sequences did not immediately respond to emails requesting information about Dr. Bloom’s discovery. This study did not provide contact details for another co-author, Dr Fu, who was also named on the worksheet for the other study.

Some scientists are skeptical that there is anything sinister behind the removal of the footage. “I don’t really understand how this indicates a cover-up,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah.

Dr Goldstein noted that the test document listed the individual mutations the Wuhan researchers found in their tests. Although the full footage is no longer in the archives, key information has been public for over a year, he said. It was simply stored in a format difficult for researchers to find.

“We all missed this relatively obscure document,” said Dr Goldstein.

“You can’t really say why they were taken out,” Dr. Bloom admitted in an interview. “You can say that the practical consequence of removing them was that people didn’t notice they existed.” He also noted that the Chinese government had ordered the destruction of a number of early samples of the virus and banned publication of articles on the coronavirus without its approval.

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