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Coronavirus: Wuhan scientist hits out at China conspiracy theories

The director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory has hit out at claims the coronavirus was created in a lab there, saying: "There is no way this virus came from us."

A picture shows samples suspected of being COVID-19 positive  in a laboratory that analyses thousands of samples each day on April 22, 2020, in Levallois-Perret, near Paris, on the 37th day of a lockdown in France to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandem

The director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, Yuan Zhiming, has sought to quash claims that the coronavirus originated at a lab in the Chinese city, insisting: “There is no way this virus came from us.”

His comments come after United States president Donald Trump on Friday said America was looking into the possibility that Covid-19 was manufactured in China, telling his daily coronavirus press briefing: “A lot of strange things are happening but there is a lot of investigation going on. And we’re going to find out.”

"Horrible" conspiracy theories "based solely on speculation"

In an interview on Chinese television, Zhiming said: “Our research has a strict regulatory regime and code of conduct [...]. Why are there rumours? Because the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its P4 laboratory are in Wuhan, and some people can’t avoid making those associations, which I think is horrible.

“But what’s worse is when people deliberately try to deceive people. The US senator Tom Cotton said the virus had come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Then the Washington Post and two reporters wrote that the virus came from a Wuhan lab. They have no evidence or any logical link with which to make such a statement.

“It was based solely on speculation.

Claims coronavirus created in lab are "impossible"

“As a director in the world of science and technology, I have been involved in the management of scientific research projects for a long time, and I know that it is impossible. Based on my own understanding of virology, there is no evidence to show that the virus has traits pointing towards artificial or synthetic origin.

“What’s more, some scientists believe that to synthesise a virus takes a level of intelligence and a degree of work that are beyond the intelligence of normal humans and exceed what human society is able to achieve. So I’ve never believed that in this day and age humans have the capacity to manufacture a virus.

“According to its agreement with the [Chinese] National Health Commission, we have shared the complete genome sequence with the World Health Organization, laying the foundations for other countries to confirm methods of testing and developing vaccines at an early stage.”

Zhiming continued: “The technological community in the USA is also firmly opposed to such conspiracy theories and to these types of comments made by politicians make for partisan political purposes. For example, some say our lab isn’t well administrated, but the Galveston National Laboratory in the US has made it clear that this lab is as well administrated as those in Europe and the US.

“Many other scientists from around the world have joined forces to publish articles with the hope that conspiracy theories don’t damage cooperation between scientists or affect their fight against the pandemic.”

Nearly 185,000 dead as a result of Covid-19

At the time of writing, the coronavirus had infected around 2.6 million people worldwide, leading to just over 183,000 deaths.

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