A Chinese virologist famous for her research on the coronavirus in bats has shared new tests that suggest the virus did not originate from her laboratory in Wuhan.
Shi Zhengli, deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, recently retested blood samples taken in 2012 from four miners who fell ill after working in bat caves in southwest China.
The results showed that none of them were infected with Covid-19, the South China Morning Post reported.
His update appears to contradict accusations by Donald Trump’s administration that the virus, which has infected nearly 58 million people worldwide, originated from his Wuhan laboratory.
The results suggest that Shi and his team had not collected samples of Sars-CoV-2 – which causes the coronavirus – before the outbreak in Wuhan.
Shi Zhengli (pictured), deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, recently retested blood samples taken eight years ago from four miners who fell ill after working in bat caves in the southwest from China
The virologist previously insisted that the characteristics of the viruses she worked with do not match the genetics of Covid-19.
The miners were infected with an unknown respiratory disease after cleaning up bat droppings from a copper mine in Yunnan province in April 2012.
“We suspected that the patients had been infected with an unknown virus. Therefore, we and other groups sampled animals including bats, rats, and musk shrews in or around the cave, ”Shi said.
One of those samples contained the bat coronavirus RaTG13, it was claimed.
Her update added: “In 2020, we compared the Sars-CoV-2 sequence with our unpublished bat coronavirus sequences and found that it shared 96.2% identity with RaTG13. ”
Scientists claimed that the 3.8% difference in strains could mean that the bat coronavirus took decades to mutate into Sars-CoV-2.
Shi has previously warned that the new viruses found around the world are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
The P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, where Shi Zhengli has been studying the coronavirus in bats since 2004
Shi’s update appears to contradict accusations by Donald Trump’s administration that the virus, which has infected nearly 58 million people worldwide, originated from his Wuhan laboratory. Pictured: Wuhan Institute of Virology, P4 laboratory
She also called for greater international cooperation in fighting the epidemics, despite accusations that China has covered up the danger posed by the coronavirus.
In May, she insisted that research into viruses needs governments and scientists to be transparent and cooperative with their findings.
She added that it was “very unfortunate” that science was politicized.
Speaking to CCTN, Shi said: “If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we have to go ahead to learn about these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in the wild. and give early warnings.
“If we don’t study them, there may be another epidemic.
President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have continuously suggested that Covid-19 is linked to the Wuhan lab.
The charges were dismissed by both Beijing and Shi.
The virologist has previously insisted that the characteristics of the viruses she has worked with do not match the genetics of Covid-19.
Writing on social media, Shi said she would “swear on my life” that the lab had nothing to do with the pandemic and that the virus was first discovered in late 2019.
Wang Yanyi, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, added that the accusations that the virus originated from the Wuhan lab were “pure fabrication.”
Shi Zhengli’s research is said to have started in 2004 to study the SARS epidemic.
She has since studied all kinds of bats and made a breakthrough in 2013 when she identified bat feaces that were 96.2% identical to Sars-CoV-2.
She also reportedly researched whether or not the coronavirus could pass from one species to another, and in 2015, she confirmed that it was possible for a SARS-like virus to pass from bats to humans.