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Chinese scientist at centre of virus controversy denies lab leak theory

Chinese scientist at centre of virus controversy denies lab leak theory

WORLD: The Chinese scientist at the centre of theories that the coronavirus pandemic originated with a leak from her specialised lab in the city of Wuhan has denied her institution was to blame for the health disaster.

ChineseCoronavirusCOVID-19
By AFP

Tuesday 15 June 2021, 09:42AM


Aerial view of the P4 laboratory (centre left) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province in May 2020. Photo: AFP.

Aerial view of the P4 laboratory (centre left) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province in May 2020. Photo: AFP.

“How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?” Dr Shi Zhengli told the New York Times in rare comments to the media.

“I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist,” she told the US daily.

US President Joe Biden last month ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the origin of the pandemic, including the lab leak theory.

The leak hypothesis had been floated earlier during the global outbreak, including by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, but was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.

But it has gained increasing traction recently, fuelled by reports that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in 2019 after visiting a bat cave in the south western Chinese province of Yunnan.

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Shi is an expert in bat coronaviruses, and some scientists have said she could have been leading so-called “gain-of-function” experiments in which scientists increase the strength of a virus to better study its effects on hosts.

According to the New York Times, in 2017 Shi and her colleagues at the Wuhan laboratory published a report on an experiment “in which they created new hybrid bat coronaviruses by mixing and matching parts of several existing ones – including at least one that was nearly transmissible to humans – in order to study their ability to infect and replicate in human cells.”

But in an email to the paper, Shi said her experiments differed from gain-of-function experiments since they did not seek to make a virus more dangerous. Instead they were trying to understand how the virus might jump across species.

“My lab has never conducted or cooperated in conducting GOF experiments that enhance the virulence of viruses,” she said.

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Christy Sweet | 16 June 2021 - 12:53:02

There is not one iota of proof  the lab was 'experimenting' - the term is studying and on WHO report  pg 38 I think, it states lab workers going into bat caves to collect specimens including  excrement  were often not properly  protected- there's the 'leak' link and explains the workers early reported illnesses. They spread it. If this were  a GoF particle, there would be a bil...

Dave_C | 16 June 2021 - 07:23:39

Whether it was gain of function or not, this is just a play on words for which the whole of the world has suffered albeit with political manipulation. 
The fact that she was experimenting with the virus is proof enough because several scientists died from that laboratory.

 

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