The Chinese government has come under fresh scrutiny over accusations that officials scrubbed crucial online data about the Wuhan Institute of Virology – the controversial laboratory suspected of being the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Daily Mail, “hundreds of pages of information” spanning over 300 studies conducted by WIV have been wiped from a database, including some which discuss passing diseases from animals to humans – which were published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and are no longer available.
The deletion of key evidence has reignited fears that China is trying to whitewash the investigation into the origins of the virus.
It comes after President Xi Jinping last week blocked investigators from the World Health Organisation entering the country in a move that drew international condemnation. Meanwhile, state media outlets have published hundreds of stories claiming that the virus did not even originate in the city of Wuhan.
As part of the NSFC’s purge of online studies, it has deleted all reference to those carried out by Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan-based virologist who has earned the nickname Batwoman for her trips to gather samples in bat caves.
Studies key to any investigation into the source of the virus, including one into the risk of cross-species infection from bats with Sars-like coronaviruses, and another looking at human pathogens carried by bats, have also disappeared. –Daily Mail
Zhengli came under fire in 2015 over her controversial ‘gain-of-function’ research creating chimeric bat viruses designed to infect humans (but suggesting that an emergent coronavirus that’s over 96% similar to a bat coronavirus could have escaped from Zhengli’s lab is a conspiracy theory). – READ MORE
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