Viruses being discovered now are "just tip of the iceberg", Shi Zhengli, a virologist known for her work on coronavirus in bats said in an interview on Chinese state television. Research into viruses needs scientists and governments to be transparent and cooperative and that is "very regrettable" when science is politicized, Bloomberg quoted Zhengli, known as China's "bat woman", as saying.
"If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings," Shi, also the deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told CGTN, as reported by Bloomberg.
Shi said that the genetic characteristics of the viruses she's worked with didn't match those of the coronavirus spreading in humans. "Swear on my life the pandemic has nothing to do with my lab," Shi recently wrote in a social media post. In another interview with CGTN, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Wang Yanyi, said that the idea that the virus escaped from the cap was "pure fabrication."
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying coronaviruses for years, ever since the 2003 SARS epidemic prompted greater research into the role of bats in spreading such viruses. She made a breakthrough in 2013. Zhengli found bat faeces with the virus 96.2 percent identical to the SARS COV-2. In 2015, she concluded that the SARS-like virus can jump from bats to humans.
The Chinese laboratory Shi works with has been accused by top American officials of being the source of the coronavirus pandemic. Both US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have claimed that there is evidence that the pathogen came from the lab in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first detected late last year.