Wuhan Lab Director Rejects COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory

Claims that the novel coronavirus originated from China's National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were baseless and contradict all available evidence, said Lab Director Yuan Zhiming in a recent written interview with Reuters.

Yuan said “malicious” claims about the lab had been “pulled out of thin air” and contradicted all available evidence. “The WIV does not have the intention and the ability to design and construct a new coronavirus,” and “there is no information within the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicating it was man-made,” he told Reuters.

Some conspiracy theories were fueled by a widely read a research paper by the Indian Institute of Technology later removed, alleging that coronavirus proteins have established "uncanny links" with HIV, the story said.

Most scientists now say SARS-CoV-2 originated in wildlife, with bats and pangolins identified as possible host species. The scientific consensus is that the coronavirus evolved naturally, according to Reuters.

“More than 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases originated from animals, especially wild animals,” Yuan told Reuters.

Scientists claim that all seven identified human coronaviruses come from insects, rodents, or domestic animals.

The lab director also dismissed the suggestion that the lab had inadvertently published coronaviruses that had been collected from bats for testing purposes, stating that the lab's biosecurity protocols had been strictly followed, Reuters said.

“High-level biosafety labs have sophisticated protective facilities and strict measures to ensure the safety of laboratory staff and protect the environment from contamination,” he said.

He said that his institute was committed to transparency and would share all available data about the coronavirus in a timely fashion.

As for the origin of the virus, Yuan told Reuters that there were “still no answers” about it.

He cited a paper by British and German scientists published this month suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 variant circulating in the United States was a more “primitive” version of the one in China, and might have appeared there first.

Source: Xinhua

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