A conspiracy theory has surfaced that the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, specifically a lab which is equipped to handle dangerous viruses.
Wuhan| Calling it “impossible,” the director of a maximum-security lab in China’s central city of Wuhan has rubbished claims that it could be the origin of the pandemic.
Beijing has come under the scanner and extreme pressure over transparency in its handling of the outbreak, with the United States investigating whether the disease actually started in a virology institute with a high-security biosafety lab.
Scientists in China have said the virus likely crossed from an animal to humans in a wet market that sold wildlife meat.
But the presence of the facility has fuelled conspiracy theories that the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, specifically its P4 laboratory which is capable of handling dangerous viruses.
Yuan Zhiming, director of the laboratory, in an interview with state media published Saturday said that “there’s no way this virus came from us”.
Director told the English-language state broadcaster CGTN that none of his staff had been infected, adding the “whole institute is carrying out research in different areas related to the coronavirus”.
Earlier in February, the institute had even then dismissed the theory, stating it had shared data about the pathogen with the WHO in early January.
However, this week the US has provoked the rumours into the mainstream, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying United States officials are doing a “full investigation” into how the disease “got out into the world”.
Yuan said: “I know it’s impossible,” when asked if the study suggested the virus could have come from the lab.
Yuan Zhiming said, “As people who carry out viral studies we clearly know what kind of research is going on at the institute and how the institute manages viruses and samples.”
Director said that as the P4 lab is in Wuhan “people can’t help but make associations”, however, some media outlets are “deliberately trying to mislead people”.
The global death toll from the coronavirus has now crossed over 1,60,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
At least 160,717 people have died from novel coronavirus and more than 2.3 million cases have been confirmed worldwide.
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