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China's top virologist Shi Zengli denies COVID-19 lab leak theory

China's top virologist Shi Zengli denies COVID-19 lab leak theory

"I don't know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist," said Zengli

Zengli says no evidence to prove lab leak theory Zengli says no evidence to prove lab leak theory

Top bat coronavirus researcher at Wuhan Institute of Virology Shi Zengli has denied the lab leak theory amid calls for probe into the origin of COVID-19. For a while, there has been a theory doing the rounds that the virus was leaked from the WIV lab. Zengli was upset at the "filth" being poured on an "innocent scientist" and said that there is no evidence to prove the theory.

"How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence? I don't know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist," said Zengli in an interview with the New York Times.

In a March 2020 article in Scientific American, Shi had said that the genetic code of the virus does not match any sample from her lab's samples. She had also told the World Health Organisation (WHO) team, visiting China to probe the origin of the virus, that the staff at the lab had tested negative for COVID-19 antibodies.

While the theory has been widely dismissed, former US President Donald Trump had also floated it earlier. But it had soon gained traction and was also fuelled by reports that three researchers from WIV had fallen sick after visiting a bat cave in Yunnan. US Joe Biden had last month ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the origin, as well as look into the lab theory.

However, Shi had said in a paper that the workers had fallen sick due to a fungal infection. The researcher had added that they had retested 13 serum samples from four of the patients and did not find any sign to indicate that they had contracted COVID-19.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, opened in 2018, is Asia's first P4 lab. The institute studies some of the world's most dangerous diseases and had earlier conducted several investigations into the links between bats and outbreaks in China.

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