TOPLINE Shi Zhengli, the deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said in an interview Monday on China Global Television Network that new viruses being discovered, such as Covid-19, are “just the tip of the iceberg,” and that international cooperation is needed to prevent future epidemics.
BEIJING, CHINA – MAY 25: Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army stop the photojournalist from … [+] Getty Images
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which houses China’s only level-four biosafety lab, has been studying coronaviruses for years; the Trump administration has suggested that the lab and China played a role in the origin of the novel coronavirus.
Shi, the institute’s deputy director, has long been referred to as China’s “bat woman” for tracking down dozens of SARS-like diseases in bats.
In an interview that aired Monday on the China Global Television Network (CGTN), Shi denied that her lab was involved in the outbreak, claiming that the viruses she’s worked with didn’t match those of the coronavirus spreading in humans, according to Bloomberg.
She stated that the lab would continue studying unidentified pathogens because “the viruses that we have discovered are just the tip of the iceberg,” and added that it is “very regrettable” when science is politicized, and called for international cooperation in the fight against epidemics.
Per Bloomberg, Zhengli’s interview with CGTN coincided with the start of the National People’s Congress, an annual meeting of China’s top leadership in Beijing.
“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,” Zhengli told CGTN in an interview that aired Monday. “If we don’t study them, there will possibly be another outbreak.”
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying coronaviruses for years. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, conspiracy theories arose, declaring the lab was responsible for novel coronavirus’ origins. Wang Yanyi, the institute’s director, called such allegations “pure fabrication” in a separate interview CGTN. Both President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have suggested Covid-19 is linked to the Wuhan laboratory. Earlier this month, Pompeo blamed China’s lack of transparency for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. “They knew,” he said in a news conference at the State Department. “China could have spared the world a descent into global economic malaise. They had a choice but instead — instead — China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan.”