China’s virologist ‘Bat Woman’ dismisses all claims of Covid-19 emergence in Wuhan lab

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 04, 2020 Published on August 04, 2020

China’s renowned ‘Bat Woman’, who is a virologist and leads a group of scientists in Wuhan, finally broken her silence on the claims that the novel coronavirus has burgeoned from her laboratory, Science magazine reported.

Zhengli’s lab studies the virus in bats. She said that her team found the first traces of the virus in 2019 when samples of unknown pneumonia were provided to her to study.

In a mailed response to the Science magazine’s query, Zhengli denounced all speculations, including US President Donald Trump’s claim that the strain of the virus emerged in Wuhan’s lab.

She said: "Before that (2019), we had never been in contact with or studied this virus, nor did we know of its existence.”

"US President Trump's claim that Sars-CoV-2 was leaked from our institute totally contradicts the facts.”

"It jeopardizes and affects our academic work and personal life. He owes us an apology."

She told the magazine that her lab has cultured three bat coronaviruses that were associated with the ones that had infected humans, including coronavirus agents that caused a pandemic in 2003.

She further claimed that around 2,000 other bat coronaviruses were genetic sequences taken from swabs and feces from bats. One among the 2,000 was 96.2 per cent identical to Sars-CoV-2.

The Bat Woman condemned the US’ decision of not providing the grants to the EcoHealth Alliance in New York included bat virus research at her lab.

She said: "We don't understand [it] and feel it is absolutely absurd...According to the findings of our team and our international peers, Sars-CoV-2 is very likely to have originated from bats. It may have evolved in one or more intermediate hosts, become adapted to humans, and eventually spread among humans.”

"However, it remains unclear which animals were the intermediate hosts and how it spilled over to humans," she added.

According to worldometers tally, China’s coronavirus cases stand at over 84,000, with more than 79,000 have recovered already. There were around 4600 deaths reported in China.

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Published on August 04, 2020
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