The Chinese language virology institute within the metropolis the place COVID-19 first emerged has three dwell strains of bat coronavirus on-site, however none match the brand new contagion wreaking chaos the world over, its director has mentioned.
Scientists suppose COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed some 340,000 individuals worldwide — originated in bats and will have been transmitted to individuals through one other mammal.
However the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology instructed state broadcaster CGTN that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others the virus may have leaked from the ability have been “pure fabrication”.
Within the interview filmed on Might 13 however broadcast Saturday evening, Wang Yanyi mentioned the centre has “remoted and obtained some coronaviruses from bats.”
“Now we have now three strains of dwell viruses… However their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 solely reaches 79.eight %,” she mentioned, referring to the coronavirus pressure that causes COVID-19.
One among their analysis groups, led by Professor Shi Zhengli, has been researching bat coronaviruses since 2004 and targeted on the “supply tracing of SARS”, the pressure behind one other virus outbreak almost 20 years in the past.
“We all know that the entire genome of SARS-CoV-2 is simply 80 % just like that of SARS. It is an apparent distinction,” she mentioned.
“So, in Professor Shi’s previous analysis, they did not take note of such viruses that are much less just like the SARS virus.”
Conspiracy rumours that the biosafety lab was concerned within the outbreak swirled on-line for months earlier than Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo introduced the idea into the mainstream by claiming that there’s proof the pathogen got here from the institute.
The lab has mentioned it acquired samples of the then-unknown virus on December 30, decided the viral genome sequence on January 2 and submitted info on the pathogen to the WHO on January 11.
Wang mentioned within the interview that earlier than it acquired samples in December, their workforce had by no means “encountered, researched or stored the virus.”
“In truth, like everybody else, we did not even know the virus existed,” she mentioned. “How may it have leaked from our lab after we by no means had it?”
The World Well being Group mentioned Washington had supplied no proof to assist the “speculative” claims.
In an interview with Scientific American, Shi mentioned the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence didn’t match any of the bat coronaviruses her laboratory had beforehand collected and studied.
Subscribe to newsletters
* Enter a sound e mail
* Thanks for subscribing to our e-newsletter.