New viruses just tip of the ice­berg: Wuhan vi­rol­o­gist

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - Su­tirtho Pa­tra­nobis spa­tra­nobis@htlive.com

BEIJING: New viruses be­ing dis­cov­ered are only the “tip of the ice­berg”, said Shi Zhengli, deputy di­rec­tor of the Wuhan In­sti­tute of Virol­ogy that’s at the cen­tre of con­spir­acy the­o­ries on the ori­gin of the Covid-19 pan­demic. “If we want to pro­tect hu­mans from viruses... we must go in ad­vance to learn of these un­known viruses,” she said.

BEIJING: New viruses be­ing dis­cov­ered are only the “tip of the ice­berg”, said a lead­ing vi­rol­o­gist from a Chi­nese lab­o­ra­tory that’s at the cen­tre of con­spir­acy the­o­ries on the ori­gin of the Covid-19 pan­demic.

“The un­known viruses that we have dis­cov­ered are ac­tu­ally just the tip of the ice­berg,” Shi Zhengli, deputy di­rec­tor of the Wuhan In­sti­tute of Virol­ogy, told Chi­nese state TV, adding that it was im­por­tant to carry out ad­vance re­search on pathogens.

Shi is known as China’s “bat woman” as she has worked on coro­n­aviruses found in the fly­ing mam­mals for years, no­tably in­side aban­doned mines in the prov­ince of Yun­nan.

Shi has kept a low pro­file since the Covid-19 out­break emerged from the cen­tral Chi­nese city of Wuhan late last year, only oc­ca­sion­ally com­ment­ing on so­cial me­dia, in­clud­ing once to deny that she had de­fected from China af­ter the epi­demic spread.

The Peo­ple’s Daily re­ported that on Fe­bru­ary 2, Shi had re­acted to a re­search ar­ti­cle by In­dian sci­en­tists im­ply­ing the novel coro­n­avirus pos­si­bly orig­i­nated from the Wuhan In­sti­tute of Virol­ogy. “The 2019 novel coro­n­avirus is a pun­ish­ment by na­ture to hu­mans’ un­san­i­tary life styles. I prom­ise with my life that the virus has noth­ing to do with the lab,” she said on the so­cial me­dia app WeChat.

In her short in­ter­view to state TV chan­nel CGTN on Mon­day, Shi de­fended China’s trans­parency in han­dling the out­break and stressed the need for more re­search on viruses. “If we want to pro­tect hu­mans from viruses or avoid a sec­ond out­break of new in­fec­tious diseases, we must go in ad­vance to learn of these un­known viruses car­ried by wild an­i­mals in na­ture and then give early warn­ings,” she said. “And we must be able to store some drugs and reagents for de­tec­tion, pre­ven­tion or treat­ment for fu­ture pre­ven­tion and con­trol.

Shi de­nied that her in­sti­tute was the ori­gin of the coro­n­avirus.

The in­sti­tute, she said, shared avail­able data with the world and that the WHO was well-in­formed about break­throughs.

“Later, we, along with two other med­i­cal in­sti­tutes in our coun­try, sub­mit­ted the whole genome se­quence of the virus to the WHO on Jan­uary 12, 2020,” she said. “We also up­loaded other se­quences to a gene li­brary called GISAID, which is used by gov­ern­ments and sci­en­tists around the world to iden­tify pathogens, to de­velop vac­cines and screen drugs.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.