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China’s “bat woman” lashed out at Donald Trump, saying the President of the United States owes his country an apology, again denying claims that the new coronavirus is linked to the Wuhan lab where he works.
Shi Zhengli, deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said in a Interview published in the journal Science that she and her colleagues found the virus in December last year, when the first reports of the disease emerged in the city. She said the lab had not seen or studied the virus before that.
“US President Trump’s claim that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from our institute totally contradicts the facts,” Shi said in the article published on July 24. “It jeopardizes and affects our academic work and our personal lives. He owes us an apology.
China denies cover-up, rejects ‘politicization’ of Coronavirus
The issue of the origin of the coronavirus has become an increasingly politicized issue as relations between the United States and China deteriorate. Trump, who has repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as the “China Virus,” and United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have suggested a link between the Wuhan lab and the outbreak, although they have never come forward. tests publicly.
The World Health Organization is sending a team of researchers to China to study the animal origins of the virus.
While Shi, who is renowned for her work on the bat coronavirus, has previously ruled out any link between the virus and the lab, her comments in the interview provided the most detailed rebuttal yet:
- WIV has identified hundreds of bat viruses, but never anything like SARS-CoV-2, Shi said.
- Questions have been raised about a possible link to RaTG13, a bat virus similar to SARS-CoV-2. Shi said the laboratory did not cultivate that bat virus, making an accident unlikely.
- Shi said that the differences in the sequences of the two viruses suggest that they diverged from a common ancestor 20 to 70 years ago.
- Partial sequencing of the Shi genome in 2016 from a coronavirus he called 4991 led to the suspicion that it was SARS-CoV-2. But Shi said 4991 is actually RaTG13: 4991 was named after the bat and was changed to RaTG13 after the entire virus was sequenced.
- Wuhan’s laboratory is subject to inspections, and antibody tests have shown no infection among staff. Shi said the laboratory was never ordered to destroy any samples after the pathogen emerged.
- Shi said that the coronavirus likely originated from bats and jumped into humans directly or through an intermediate host.
- The laboratory found RNA fragments of the virus at various locations in the Wuhan seafood market, but not in frozen animal meat. Shi said years of surveillance in Hubei province have not revealed a bat coronavirus near SARS-CoV-2, leading her to believe that the leap from animals to humans occurred elsewhere.
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