Chinese scientist at the center of COVID-19

 
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:10 am    Post subject: Chinese scientist at the center of COVID-19 Reply with quote

Chinese scientist at the center of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has thrust virologist Shi Zhengli into a fierce spotlight. Shi, who’s been nicknamed “Bat Woman,” heads a group that studies bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in the city in China where the pandemic began, and many have speculated that the virus that causes COVID-19 accidentally escaped from her lab—a theory promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump. Some have even suggested it could have been engineered there.To get more news about china industry research centers, you can visit acem.sjtu.edu.cn official website.

Now, Shi has broken her silence about the details of her work. On 15 July, she emailed Science answers to a series of written questions about the virus’ origin and the research at her institute. In them, Shi hit back at speculation that the virus leaked from WIV. She and her colleagues discovered the virus in late 2019, she says, in samples from patients who had a pneumonia of unknown origin. “Before that, we had never been in contact with or studied this virus, nor did we know of its existence,” Shi wrote.

“U.S. President Trump’s claim that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from our institute totally contradicts the facts,” she added. “It jeopardizes and affects our academic work and personal life. He owes us an apology.”

Shi stressed that over the past 15 years, her lab has isolated and grown in culture only three bat coronaviruses related to one that infected humans: the agent that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which erupted in 2003. The more than 2000 other bat coronaviruses the lab has detected, including one that is 96.2% identical to SARS-CoV-2—which means they shared a common ancestor decades ago—are simply genetic sequences that her team has extracted from fecal samples and oral and anal swabs of the animals. She also noted that all of the staff and students in her lab were recently tested for SARS-CoV-2 and everyone was negative, challenging the notion that an infected person in her group triggered the pandemic.

Shi was particularly chagrined about the 24 April decision by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), made at the White House’s behest, to ax a grant to the EcoHealth Alliance in New York City that included bat virus research at WIV. “We don’t understand [it] and feel it is absolutely absurd,” she said.

Science shared Shi’s responses—available here in full (PDF)—with several leading researchers in other countries. “It’s a big contribution,” says Daniel Lucey of Georgetown University, an outbreak specialist who blogs about SARS-CoV-2 origin issues. “There are a lot of new facts that I wasn’t aware of. It’s very exciting to hear this directly from her.”
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