Shi Zhengli, a virologist from China who is popularly known as the bat woman, has provided new evidence that the novel coronavirus did not originate from her lab. The research that has been published in the scientific journal Nature and expands on her research done in February and provides latest evidence that Shi’s lab is not the source of the coronavirus.
According to South China Morning Post, Shi, who is the head of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said that the samples tested from miners who got infected with a disease eight years back confirm that they did not have SARS-CoV-2. In 2012, the miners had developed a respiratory disease after clearing bat faeces in a copper mine at Yunnan province.
The team had sampled various animals near the cave between 2012 and 2015 in order to test the cause of the illness. They sampled bats, rats and musk shrews in order to find the origin of this virus.
As per the report her team had found RaTG13, a bat coronavirus in 2012. Shi retested 13 samples taken from four of these miners and found that they were not infected with SARS-CoV-2. This research appears to counter theories that Shi’s lab is the source for the origin of Covid-19 which has killed and infected millions worldwide.
In her February paper, Shi had said that the genetic sequence of the RaTG13 was 96 percent identical to SARS-CoV-2. Earlier in May 2020, Shi had appeared on China’s state TV CGTN and had said “science has been politicized” in reference to the argument that the novel coronavirus originated from her lab.
She had then also said that the viruses discovered by them are only the tip of the iceberg. The virologist had insisted that if they want to protect people from the outbreak of infectious diseases then initiatives must be taken to learn more about the viruses carried by animals and give warnings.