Rare footage has shown scientists carrying out research works at a Wuhan virus laboratory as the head of the team claimed ‘there’s no way’ the novel coronavirus originated there.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which keeps more than 1,500 strains of deadly viruses, has become the centre of controversy amid the global crisis.
Startling theories claim that the virus was leaked from the establishment, which has China‘s only lab with the highest biosafety level of P4.
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A video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in February shows virologists donning spacesuit-like protective gears as they work in the P4 lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
The lab is said to have three testing rooms, two animal storage rooms, one virus bank and one animal-dissection room. Twenty-four scientists can work there at the same time, CCTV said
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences
A video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in February provides a glimpse into the institute.
The £34million lab is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It was completed in 2015 and officially opened in 2018.
In the clip, one researcher, named Zhang Huajun, demonstrates how he and one colleague put on two layers of protective suits and pass five air-tight chambers before entering the core part of the lab.
One researcher, named Zhang Huajun (in orange), demonstrates he and one colleague putting on two layers of protective suits and passing five air-tight chambers before entering the lab
Researcher Zhang said the lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was designed in such a way that air can only flow into the lab from the outside, not the other way around, to prevent leaks
The lab is said to have three testing rooms, two animal storage rooms, one virus bank and one animal-dissection room. Twenty-four scientists can work there at the same time.
Researcher Zhang said the building was designed in such a way that air can only flow into the lab from the outside, not the other way around, to prevent leaks.
US President Donald Trump said last week that Washington was investigating if the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the lab.
China insisted that the WHO has found no evidence the novel coronavirus was man-made.
Dr Yuan Zhiming, the deputy head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, hit back at the accusations in an interview with state media over the weekend.
‘There’s no way this virus came from us,’ Dr Yuan told CGTN, the English-language arm of CCTV.
‘I know it’s impossible,’ he added.
Dr Yuan Zhiming (pictured), the deputy head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, told CGTN ‘there’s no way this virus came from us’. He also refuted claims that the virus was man-made
Shi Zhengli (pictured working in the lab), a deputy director at the institute, told the press in February that she ‘guaranteed with her own life’ that the outbreak was not related to the lab
Dr Yuan said that a man-made coronavirus would be beyond human intelligence as he rejected claims that the virus was artificially engineered.
Wuhan virus lab researchers warned of SARS-like coronavirus outbreaks
The ominous prediction came from a study carried out by Shi Zhengli and her colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology when they stressed the importance of conducting investigations of viruses from bats.
Shi, nicknamed the ‘Bat Woman’, allegedly sequenced the genes of the new coronavirus in three days after the epidemic emerged, but was silenced by her boss.
In the article from in January, 2019, Shi and her the team highlighted the likelihood of another coronavirus epidemic in China by analysing three large-scale outbreaks caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS) respectively.
The article said that all three pathogens were coronaviruses and could be traced back to bats, and two of them had originated in China.
The researchers urged: ‘Thus, it is highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.
‘Therefore, the investigation of bat coronaviruses becomes an urgent issue for the detection of early warning signs, which in turn minimizes the impact of such future outbreaks in China.’
‘Some scientists believe that to synthesise a virus requires extraordinary intelligence or workload, so I have never believed that we humans have the capabilities at this time to create such a virus,’ he explained.
Dr Yuan attributed the theories to the fact that the institute and the P4 lab are in Wuhan, so ‘people can’t help but make associations which I think is understandable’.
But he criticised people who ‘are deliberately trying to mislead people’. He blamed US senator Tom Cotton and the Washington Post for promoting such claims.
‘They have no evidence or knowledge. This is entirely based on speculation,’ he denounced.
‘Part of the purpose is to confuse people, to interfere with our entire epidemic activities or our scientific activities.’
Although scientists believe that the virus jumped to humans from wild animals sold as food in a market about 10 miles from the lab, conspiracy theorists promote different assumptions.
Some people claim that the virus, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, could be a biological warfare weapon engineered there. Others suspect that it escaped from the lab.
Shi Zhengli, a deputy director at the institute, told the press in February that she ‘guaranteed with her own life’ that the outbreak was not related to the lab.
The institute also refuted reports which named Huang Yanling, a researcher at the Institute of Virology, as ‘patient zero’ – the first person to be infected.
‘I can tell you for sure that none of our students, retirees or any of our staff has been infected,’ Dr Yuan said.
American intelligence services have reportedly launched a full-scale investigation into the lab over claims that scientists there allowed the novel coronavirus to escape as part of a botched experiment, leading to a global pandemic.
Sources said American analysts will present their findings ‘in the near term’ to Trump, who will then huddle with aides to determine how to hold China accountable for the pandemic
China has denied speculation that the pathogen originated inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab, though US government agencies are now said to be piecing together a timeline of what authorities in Beijing knew to ‘create an accurate picture of what happened’.
Sources told Fox News on Friday that American analysts will present their findings ‘in the near term’ to President Trump, who will then huddle with aides to determine how to hold China accountable for the pandemic.
The American intelligence sources told Fox News that analysts in Washington have ruled out the theory that the coronavirus was engineered by Chinese scientists as a bioweapon.
Experts note that the genome mapping of the virus indicates that there were no genetic alterations made to it.
Scientists believe that the virus jumped to humans from wild animals sold as food in a market about 10 miles from the lab, but conspiracy theorists are promoting different assumptions
US sources told Fox News they believe that ‘patient zero’ became infected with coronavirus as it was being studied inside the lab.
The infected person then is believed to have spread the virus throughout the city and onwards.
While the exact origin of the virus remains unknown, the broad scientific consensus holds that SARS-CoV-2 came from bats.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has killed more than 165,000 people and infected over 2.4 million worldwide since the pandemic began in Wuhan last December.
Why did China build a virus lab in Wuhan?
A worker is seen inside the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan on February 23, 2017
Chinese officials decided to build the Wuhan Institute of Virology after the country was ravaged by an outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003.
SARS, another kind of coronavirus, killed 775 people and infected more than 8,000 globally in an epidemic that lasted about eight months.
Its crown jewel is a four-storey lab with the highest biosafety level of P4.
It’s the most advanced laboratory of its type in China.
Construction of the lab was finished in 2015 and it officially opened on January 5, 2018, after passing various safety inspections.
Describing the significance of the P4 lab, China Youth Online billed it as the ‘aircraft carrier of China’s virology’. The state-run newspaper said it ‘is capable of researching the deadliest pathogens’.
One researcher, Zhou Peng, told state news agency Xinhua in 2018: ‘We are proud to say that we are already at the forefront in the field of studying the immunity mechanism of bats, which carry viruses for a long time.
‘Bats carry viruses but are not infected [by them]. [They] provide hope for mankind to study how to fight viruses.’
Source: dailymail US