China has been accused of covering up the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, a claim that Beijing has repeatedly denied. However, the director of the secretive Wuhan Institute of Virology has finally spoken out and dropped a bombshell revelation. Speaking to Chinese state media, Wang Yanyi confirmed reports that the facility held three strains of coronavirus inside the laboratory.
However, she went on to say that none of the live bat coronaviruses matched that of COVID-19.
She rebuked claims made by US President Donald Trump that the virus had leaked out of the lab, insisting that was “pure fabrication”.
Despite this denial, Ms Wang did admit that the highest similarity to COVID-19 reached as high as nearly 80 percent.
In the interview filmed on May 13 but broadcast on Saturday, Ms Wang told state broadcaster CGTN the centre had “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats”.
She continued: “Now we have three strains of live viruses but their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8 percent.
“We know that the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 is only 80 per cent similar to that of SARS. It’s an obvious difference.”
According to the institute’s leader, the experiments on the coronavirus strains in bats at the lab were focusing on the “source tracing of SARS,” the strain behind another deadly virus outbreak nearly two decades ago.
Leading scientists around the world and the leadership at the WHO blame the Wuhan wet market for the spread of the virus.
Aside from theories that the virus leaked from the lab, others suggest that China may have purposely manufactured the virus as a bio-weapon.
Ms Wang refuted such theories, adding: “We didn’t even know about the existence of the virus, so how could it be leaked from our lab when we didn’t have it?”
Despite this, suspicions have been raised after China admitted destroying early samples of coronavirus in January, but claims it was acting in the interests of public health.
China’s President Xi Jinping knew about the coronavirus on January 7 but China did not shut down international travel until weeks later.
Published at Sun, 24 May 2020 12:32:00 +0000