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'China Denies Possibility of Covid-19 Virus Leak from Lab, But Actions Tell Different Story': US Senator

Image for representation. (AP Photo)

Image for representation. (AP Photo)

Tom Cotton, a US senator from Arkansas, claimed that China has two labs where bats and humans frequently come in contact.

With the US government exploring the possibility of Covid-19 originating from a state-operated laboratory in China, Republican senator Tom Cotton says that there is enough evidence to back the claim.

Chinese scientists reported in the medical journal Lancet, on January 24, that the first known cases had no contact with the market, and Chinese state media, too, has noted the finding, Cotton writes for The Wall Street Journal.

Cotton says that there is no proof that the markets allowed the sale of bats or pangolin – animals from which the virus is believed to have transmitted to humans. Bat species that carries the novel coronavirus is not found within 100 miles of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, he adds.

Wuhan, Cotton claims, has two labs where bats and humans frequently come in contact.

“One is the Institute of Virology, eight miles from the wet market; the other is the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, barely 300 yards from the market,” the article says.

The two labs procure many wild animals to analyse the viruses. The scientists go to far-flung caves across China to take into captivity bats for the study. Cotton adds that Chinese state media had released a documentary in December which showed CDC researchers in Wuhan collecting viruses from caves where bats are found. In the documentary, the researchers had purportedly expressed concerns about the risk of infection.

These risks, he says are not restricted to the field. The article then refers to a Washington Post report that said that in 2018, US diplomats in China had cautioned against ‘a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate’ at the Institute of Virology.

The Wuhan CDC operates at even lower biosafety standards, Cotton claimed.

Though the Chinese government has denied the possibility of a lab leak, the actions, Cotton says, conveys a different tale.

“The Chinese military posted its top epidemiologist to the Institute of Virology in January. In February Chairman Xi Jinping urged swift implementation of new biosafety rules to govern pathogens in laboratory settings,” Cotton wrote.

In January, enforcers intimidated doctors who cautioned their colleagues about the virus. Out of those, was Li Wenliang, who died of Covid-19 in February, he said. Laboratories who were sequencing the genetic code of the virus were directed to eliminate their samples, he added.

The laboratory that first released the virus’s genome was closed, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported in February. He, however, adds that the evidence of this is “circumstantial”, but all seem to lead to the Wuhan lab.

“Thanks to the Chinese coverup, we may never have direct, conclusive evidence—intelligence rarely works that way—but Americans justifiably can use common sense to follow the inherent logic of events to their likely conclusion,” Cotton concluded.