As per a report published in the Chinese mouthpiece Global Times on June 20, the Wuhan Institute of Virology got shortlisted for a prize recognition for its “outstanding science and technology achievement” for “identifying” the Covid-19 virus. The list of candidates was published by China’s Academy of Science (CAS) on June 18.
Scientists of Wuhan lab mentioned as “outstanding contributors”
The list also mentioned lab director Shi Zhengli popularly known as the “bat woman” and deputy director of the lab Yuan Zhiming as outstanding contributors. Dr Shi was praised for “achievement in identifying the Covid-19 pathogen and completing the coronavirus gene sequencing, virus isolation, receptor verification, mouse model establishment and other studies on pathogen identification.” On the other hand, Dr Yaun was selected for “outstanding contribution in establishing a coronavirus non-human primate infection model”.
‘Wuhan lab scientists deserve Nobel” claimed Foreign Ministry spokesman
On June 17, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian talked to the reporters and said that the team in the Wuhan lab should get a Nobel prize in medicine for their “contributions” in research on Covid-19 instead of being criticised.
Last week, Dr Shi gave an interview to The New York Times and spoke about the allegations raised against her. She claimed it was not possible to give evidence for something that has no evidence. She said, “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.”
Praises poured for Wuhan lab by CAS
According to GT, CAS said that the Wuhan Institute of Virology started working immediately to identify the pathogen after the outbreak and completed the virus genome sequencing and virus isolation in a short time. It “confirmed that the Covid-19 virus shares the same functional receptor as the SARS virus, systematically analysed the basic biological characteristics of the virus, and revealed that coronavirus carried by bats might be the evolutionary ancestor of the Covid-19 coronavirus,” CAS added.
The possibility of lab leak
According to some scientists and researchers theorised that the virus was engineered by Chinese Scientists via a process named “gain of function” that supercharges the pathogens through genetic manipulation. The theory has, however, been dismissed as conspiracy.
Interestingly, Alina Chan, one of the 18 scientists that published a letter in the journal Science demanding a more in-depth investigation into the origin of the virus, talked to NBC over the lab leak theory and its dismissal. He said, “At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump and to become a tool for racists, so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins.”
If Chan is to be believed, the scientists, who are supposed to be on the side of the Science, got so involved in the politics that they dismissed a theory just because it was brought to light by someone they, and a part of the community dislike.
WHO’s denial to lab leak theory
In February 2021, the World Health Organization completed its investigation into the origin of the Covid-19 virus. It concluded that it was extremely unlikely that the virus leaked from the lab. However, a lot of scientists do not agree with the theory. The speculation over lab leak theory is overwhelming to be rejected without in-depth investigation.
Fresh investigation ordered
In May 2021, The United States government ordered its intelligence agencies to conduct fresh 90-day inquiry as US President and other world leaders urged for further investigation into the origin of the virus.
Dr Quay and Professor Richard Muller, an astrophysicist from the University of California, Berkeley, detailed the scientific case for the lab-leak theory in an op-ed in WSJ. In their article, they said that the genetic fingerprint of the Covid-19 virus indicated that it was created in the lab. They wrote, “In fact, in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally.”
Recently, a video was discovered in which bats were seen being caged in Wuhan Insitute. Before the video came to notice, it was widely rejected by the WIV that they had live bats in the lab. The involvement of US scientists like Dr Fauci, Peter Dasazak and others was also revealed in recent times. It was alleged that they had a role in suppressing the truth about the virus. Keeping all the fresh evidence against WIV in mind, the so-called award nomination is a questionable move by the Chinese government.