Despite the WHO's comments that such a scenario was a "conspiracy," the new film from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology has shown that live bats were housed in cages, reigniting a dispute over the coronavirus's origins.
The infamous facility is at the core of a belief that Covid-19 wasn't carried from bats to people by an unknown middleman, as many experts believe, but rather was leaked, whether purposefully or not, from the institute.
According to the NZ Herald, a joint inquiry by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China investigating the disease's origins deemed the possibility of a laboratory leak "very doubtful" and the concept that bats were kept at the facility "a mistake."
“There were no BATS submitted to the Wuhan lab for genetic investigation of viruses captured in the field. This isn't how science works. We gather bat samples and send them to a lab for analysis. Wherever we catch bats, we RELEASE them "zoologist Dr. Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team, remarked in a tweet in December.
“There is a commonly held conspiracy idea about this. This essay outlines work on which I'm the lead and labs with which I've worked for the past 15 years "He wrote in a different journal. “They don't include any live or dead bats. There is no indication that this occurred anywhere. It's a mistake I'm hoping will be remedied."
Daszak appeared to backtrack on his prior denials earlier this month, claiming on Twitter that the WHO team had not asked if the institute kept bats.
Despite the lack of new scientific proof, the possibility that Covid-19 moved from bats to humans via an intermediate species, a process is known as "zoonosis," has recently gained support ", according to experts, is still the most likely scenario.
The Chinese scientist at the core of claims that the coronavirus epidemic began with a leak from her specialist lab in Wuhan denied her institution was to blame for the public health calamity on Tuesday.
“How in the world can I present proof for something for which there is none?" In rare media comments, Dr. Shi Zhengli told the New York Times. “I'm not sure how the world has come to this, constantly dumping dirt on an innocent scientist,” says the scientist, "She told a US newspaper.
The leak argument had been proposed earlier during the global outbreak, including by US Vice President Joe Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, but it was widely disregarded as a conspiracy theory.
However, allegations that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill in 2019 after visiting a bat cave in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have fueled the movement.
Shi is an expert on bat coronaviruses, and some scientists believe she may have been at the forefront of the so-called "gain-of-function" virus "Experiments in which scientists raise the virus's strength in order to better understand how it affects its hosts.
According to the New York Times, Shi and her colleagues at the Wuhan laboratory published a report in 2017 detailing an experiment in which they “created new hybrid bat coronaviruses by mixing and matching parts of several existing ones — including at least one that was nearly transmissible to humans — in order to study their ability to infect and replicate in human cells.”
Shi, however, explained that her trials were not gain-of-function experiments because they did not aim to make a virus more deadly in an email to the paper. Instead, they were attempting to figure out how the virus may spread between species.
She stated, "My lab has never undertaken or collaborated in doing GOF experiments that boost virus virulence."