Wuhan lab has 3 live bat coronaviruses, none matches Covid-19: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 24, 2020

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The virology lab in Wuhan city of China, the original epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak had three live bat viruses in the lab, however, none of them matched the virus that has caused the global Covid-19 pandemic, according to reports.

In a recent interview with CGTN, Wang Yanyi (Wang), an immunologist and director of the Wuhan institute had said that the lab had no role in the origin of the pandemic and that it never had the virus that caused Covid-19.

According to Wang, the institute had first received the clinical sample of unknown pneumonia on December 30, 2019. The lab had no knowledge of the virus and had not researched or encountered the same before then, she had said.

Wang had further said that one of the teams at the institute led by Professor Shi Zhengli had been studying bat coronaviruses in 2004. The research was meant to trace the origin of SARS. The country had been taken by a storm due to the SARS epidemic in 2003. The research was focused on source tracing of SARS where the team was attempting to isolate and obtain bat coronaviruses that were similar to the one that caused SARS.

After many years of research, the team had isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats. The institute now has three strains of live bat coronaviruses whereby one of them bore a high similarity 96 per cent to the SARS virus. However, their similarity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic is only 79.8 per cent, Wang said.

China and the virology lab at Wuhan have been under the scanner with many news reports and politicians claiming that the virus had originated from the lab. US President Donald Trump on multiple occasions has said that the virus is likely to have originated from the lab.

The World Health Organization, as well as the US Intelligence community, however, have previously issued statements that said that according to the evidence so far, the virus is of natural origin rather than genetically modified.

Earlier this month, China had also released a 30-page report on its website refuting “false claims” made by news reports and the US administration about the origin of the virus and China’s role in the same, Reuters had reported.

The exact origin of the virus is yet to be determined. The WHO last week had passed a resolution backed by its members to research further into the origin of the virus.

Over 5.3 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported across the globe with fatalities surpassing 3.4 lakhs as per reports.

Published on May 24, 2020

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