Chinese scientist Dr. Shi Zhengli has denied claims that her specialised lab stationed in Wuhan is to blame for the Covid-19 pandemic. The theories that Covid-19 originated from a lab were merely deemed as far-fetched and would typically be dismissed until recently, where calls for an investigation into the origins of the virus have been made by world leaders such as US President Joe Biden.
Last month, Biden had ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 virus but did not completely rule out the lab leak theory as a possible explanation. The theory has potential legitimacy as reports have been published in relation to three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology becoming sick in 2019 after visiting a bat cave in the Chinese province of Yunnan.
It has been speculated by some scientists that Dr. Shi, who is an expert on bat coronaviruses, may have been experimenting with the virus through gain-of-function research, which requires the strength of a virus to be increased to allow its effects on hosts to be studied in a more in-depth manner.
While speaking to the New York Times in relation to the theories, Dr. Shi stated, “How on earth can I offer evidence for something where there is no evidence?” while saying to the US Daily, “I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist,”.
She told the New York Times that she and her colleagues at the Wuhan-based laboratory published a report in 2017 regarding an experiment that involved the creation of new hybrid bat coronaviruses that were manufactured through mixing and matching parts of several existing ones, with at least one being transmissible to humans.
The experiment was conducted in order to examine the virus’ ability to infect and replicate in human cells.
She added that these experiments were different to a typical gain-of-function research-based experiment as they didn’t attempt to make the virus more dangerous but instead were examining its capabilities in jumping species.
Dr Shi went on to state that her institute has never conducted or co-operated in gain-of-function experiments that involved strengthening a virus.