The Chinese virology institute at the centre of US allegations it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new global contagion, its director has said.
Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal.
But the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster CGTN that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others the virus could have leaked from the facility were “pure fabrication”.
In the interview filmed on May 13 but broadcast Saturday night, Wang Yanyi said the centre has “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats”.
“Now we have three strains of live viruses… But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8 percent,” she said, referring to the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
One of their research teams, led by Professor Shi Zhengli, has been researching bat coronaviruses since 2004 and focused on the “source tracing of SARS”, the strain behind another virus outbreak nearly two decades ago. – READ MORE
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