COVID-19 origins probe: WHO team meets ‘Bat Woman’ in Wuhan

COVID-19 origins probe: WHO team visits Wuhan lab
WHO logo (Image credits: Wikimedia)
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COVID-19 origins probe: A team of investigators led by the World Health Organization visited a virus research laboratory in the central city of Wuhan in China.

As part of their search for clues to COVID-19 origins, they met with a prominent virologist.

Wuhan Institute of Virology has been at the centre of a few conspiracy theories that claim a leak caused the first coronavirus outbreak at the end of 2019 in Wuhan.

The experts spent around three hours at the Wuhan Institute of Virology amid tight security.

“Extremely important meeting today with staff at WIV including Dr Shi Zhengli. Frank, open discussion. Key questions asked & answered,” team member Peter Daszak said on Twitter.

About the “Bat Woman”

Shi is a well-known virus hunter who has long focused on the bat coronavirus. Because of this, she has earned the nickname “Bat Woman.”

Shi was one of the first persons last year to isolate the coronavirus.

She is among the many scientists who reject the hypothesis of the laboratory leak.

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However, some experts believe that a wild-caught virus could have figured in laboratory experiments to test the risks of human spillover. And then, it could have escaped through an infected staff member.

“Very interesting. Many questions,” Thea Fischer, a Danish member of the team, said from her car as she left the lab after Wednesday’s visit. She said this in response to a question whether the team had found anything.

COVID-19 origins probe

Some scientists have asked China to release details of all coronavirus samples tested in the lab. They want to determine which ones are most similar to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes respiratory illness.

The new coronavirus that triggered the pandemic was first identified in Wuhan.

However, Beijing tried to challenge the notion that it originated in China. Moreover, it pointed to imported frozen food as a possible conduit.

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