Sir Paul McCartney calls for China's 'medieval' wet markets to be banned after coronavirus

15 April 2020, 10:06

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Sir Paul McCartney has called for an end to China's "medieval" wet markets and agreed it is "mind-boggling" that the Chinese government has not shut them down yet.

His comments come amid widespread - though so far unproven - claims they are the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Beatle, 77, is isolating at home in Sussex, with daughter Mary and her family. Sir Paul said wife Nancy is in New York.

During an appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show, Sir Paul discussed China's wet markets, where fresh meat and fish are sold. Some have blamed sites in Wuhan for the coronavirus outbreak.

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Sir Paul, a long-time animal rights activist, said: "I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government will say, 'OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.'

"Let's face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats."

He was speaking out against China's wet markets
He was speaking out against China's wet markets. Picture: PA

Stern said it was "mind-boggling" the Chinese government has not shut down the markets.

Sir Paul replied: "It wouldn't be so bad if this is the only thing it seems like you can blame on those wet markets.

"It seems like Sars, avian flu, all sorts of other stuff that has afflicted us, and what's it for? For these quite medieval practices. They need to clean up their act. This may lead to it. If this doesn't, I don't know what will."

Sir Paul also discussed the idea of celebrities campaigning for wet markets to be closed.

He said: "I think it makes a lot of sense ... when you've got the obscenity of some of the stuff that's going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs. It's affecting the whole world.

"I understand that part of it is going to be: people have done it for ever, this is the way we do things. But they did slavery forever, too. You've got to change things at some point."

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His comments come as a new study found that the coronavirus pandemic may have been caused by stray dogs eating bat meat.

Professor Xuhua Xia, from the University of Ottawa's biology department, has said that stray dogs are likely to be the intermediate hosts of Covid-19 between bats and humans.

His study states that the new human form of coronavirus and its closest relative, the disease found in bats, most probably infected the intestines of dogs and then evolved to infect humans.

Professor Xia made the conclusions after studying coronavirus signatures across different species.

Humans and mammals can fight viruses through a key antiviral protein called Zap which prevents the infection from multiplying, while regions of DNA called CpG dinucleotides direct the immune system to attack the virus.

But single-strand coronaviruses can avoid the body's natural defences by reducing CpG, in a similar fashion to HIV.