China’s ‘bat woman’ scientist denies claims Covid leaked from Wuhan virus lab
Wuhan virologist Dr Shi Zhengli, labelled the "bat woman", has denied claims that Covid came from a lab in a rare interview with the press.
Dr Shi got her 'Bat Woman' name after she sequenced the genes of the novel coronavirus in three days.
She has since identified multiple deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves and says there are more out there.
World leaders reportedly discussed the popular theory when they met at the G7 Summit in Cornwall last week, as claims circulate that the virus could have been released in an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK doesn't believe the pandemic leaked from a lab in Wuhan, but admitted we did not have "all the answers".
Raab said the UK's "best information" remains that the virus "jumped" from animals to humans.
Speaking on the issue, US President Joe Biden said: "I have not reached a conclusion because our intelligence community is not certain yet.
"Whether or not this was a consequence from the marketplace of a bat interfacing with animals… or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory.
"It’s important to know the answer to that."
Dr Zhengli has vigorously denied claims that the virus was man-made.
"My lab has never conducted or cooperated in conducting gain-of-function experiments that enhance the virulence of viruses," she told the New York Times.
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The virologist said that these claims were "speculation rooted in utter distrust".
She added: "This is no longer a question of science.
"I'm sure that I did nothing wrong. So I have nothing to fear."
Claims of three researchers from her institute seeking treatment at a hospital in November 2019 for flu-like symptoms were also denied by the doctor.
A text message reportedly sent by Dr Zhengli said: "I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist."
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The city of Wuhan was at the centre of the starting outbreak in December 2019.
Experts from the World Health Organisation said in February that Covid was "extremely unlikely" to have entered the human population as a result of anything laboratory-related.
However, the WHO has admitted that "all hypotheses still remain on the table" and is hoping to carry out the second phase of its work.
US President Joe Biden has also called for an investigation into the origins of the virus, including the laboratory leak theory.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said grieving families deserved answers to the theory.
"The respect these people deserve is knowing what the origin of this disease is," he added.
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