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Suddenly deleted virus sequence?They are back

Batch of early coronavirus data Got missing It emerged from hiding for a year.

In June, American scientists discovered that more than 200 gene sequences were mysteriously removed from an online database from a sample of Covid-19 patients isolated in China early in the pandemic. Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, conducted a digital survey and successfully tracked 13 sequences on Google Cloud.

Dr. Bloom shares his experience report Posted online, he wrote, “It’s likely that the sequence has been removed, obscuring its existence.”

But now, a strange explanation has emerged from the editorial oversight of scientific journals. The sequence is then uploaded to another database overseen by the Chinese government.

The story began in early 2020 when Wuhan University researchers investigated new ways to test the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping the country. They sequenced short genetic material from virus samples taken from 34 patients at Huoshenshan Hospital.

researcher Post Their findings were conducted online in March 2020. That month, they also uploaded the sequences to an online database called the Sequence Read Archive, maintained by the National Institutes of Health, and submitted a treatise explaining the results to a scientific journal. small..Paper Release June 2020.

Dr. Bloom noticed the Wuhan sequence this spring while studying the origin of Covid-19. Read May 2020 review For the early sequence of coronaviruses, he came across a spreadsheet stating their presence in the Sequence Read Archive.

But Dr. Bloom couldn’t find them in the database. He sent an email to a Chinese scientist on June 6 asking where the data was going, but he didn’t get a response. On June 22, he posted his report. This report was featured in The New York Times and other media.

At the time, a NIH spokeswoman said the study author requested that the sequence be removed from the database in June 2020. The author has notified the agency that the sequence has been updated and will be added to another database. (The author did not respond to inquiries from the Times.)

But a year later, Dr. Bloom couldn’t find the sequence in any database.

The sequence became quiet on July 5, more than a year after researchers withdrew the sequence from the sequence read archive, and two weeks after Dr. Bloom’s report was published online. upload In the database maintained by the National Center for Biological Information of China by Wuhan University researcher and co-author of Small Paper Ben Phu.

On July 21, a press conference in Beijing raised the disappearance of the sequence, and Chinese officials rejected allegations that the pandemic began as a laboratory leak.

according to translation Dr. Zeng Yixin, a press conference by a journalist from Xinhua News Agency, Deputy Minister of the National Health Commission of China, is a sequence-read archive by small editors and scientists.

“Therefore, researchers thought it was no longer necessary to store the data in the NCBI database,” said Dr. Zeng, referring to the Sequence Read Archive run by NIH.

The editor of Germany-based Small, who specializes in micro and nanoscale science, confirmed his explanation. “The data availability statement was accidentally deleted,” editor Plamena Dogandzhiyski wrote in an email. “We will issue a fix shortly, which will clarify the error and include a link to the storage location where the data is currently hosted.”

The journal has officially posted Fix To that effect on Thursday.

It is not clear why the author did not mention the journal error when requesting to remove the sequence from the sequence read archive, or told NIH that the sequence was updated. It’s also not clear why they waited a year to upload to another database. Dr. Hu did not respond to the email asking for comment.

Dr. Bloom couldn’t even explain the conflicting accounts. “I’m not in a position to make a ruling among them,” he said in an interview.

These sequences cannot be resolved on their own Unresolved questions How the pandemic occurred, including contact with wildlife, leaks from the laboratory, and other pathways.

Wuhan researchers wrote in their first report that they extracted genetic material from “samples from outpatients suspected of having Covid-19 in the early stages of the epidemic.”But now the entry in the Chinese database show They were taken from Wuhan University People’s Hospital on January 30 — almost two months after Covid-19’s first report in China.

Although the disappearance of the sequence appears to be the result of an editorial error, Dr. Bloom found it worthwhile to look for other sequences of coronavirus that may be lurking online. “That definitely means we should keep watching,” he said.

Suddenly deleted virus sequence?They are back

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