WORLD


Claims against Wuhan lab based on thin air, researcher says

Baku, July 22, AZERTAC

Staff members at the Wuhan Institute of Virology never engineered or leaked the novel coronavirus, and none of them ever contracted COVID-19 virus, a researcher from the institute said on Thursday, according to chinadaily. com.cn.

Yuan Zhiming, a researcher at the institute in Wuhan, Hubei province, added that the institute had not come in contact, stored or researched the virus before Dec 30, 2019. Yuan is also the director of the National Biosafety Laboratory in Wuhan.

"The infrastructure, management, team composition and working protocols at the institute's P4 biosafety laboratory are the same as other P4 labs in operation," he said during a media briefing held by the State Council Information Office. "Since the laboratory began operating in 2018, no laboratory leaks or human infections have ever occurred."

Yuan said the laboratory has stable and reliable biosafety precautions in place, and has established a set of complete biosafety management systems and a professional team to bolster, manage and maintain its operation.

Refuting the allegation that three workers at the institute were infected with the disease in November 2019, Yuan said people propagating the claim were never able to provide names of the alleged researchers. "The claim has been created out of thin air," he said.

He said unfounded accusations that implicate the institute as the source of the outbreak has disturbed the institute's scientific research work and disrupted international communication and cooperation.

Earlier this year, Chinese and international experts visited Wuhan to study the origin of the virus, which was organized by the World Health Organization.

Liang Wannian, head of Chinese experts on the WHO-convened mission, said the team had conducted field visits at the institute, and in particular, learned about the institute's implementation of management and safety regulations, as well as its past and current research projects.

The mission had reached the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that the virus originated from a laboratory, he said.

Chinese researchers suggested that more probe should be directed to countries where P4 laboratories had not been visited by international experts, reviewing possible safety risks and laboratory incidents there, Liang said.

Zeng said the plan has listed the hypothesis of China had violated lab regulations and leaked the virus as one of the major research objectives, and he was "very shocked" after reading the proposal.

Zeng said Chinese experts have voiced their concerns and suggestions for improving the investigation plan to the WHO.

"We hope the WHO can carefully consider the advice by Chinese scientists, take investigating the origin of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific question free from political interference, and proactively and properly conduct sustained investigations into the origin of the virus in various countries across the world," he said.

China had presented sufficient data in accordance with the requests by experts from the World Health Organization's mission to China on the origins of the COVID-19 virus, said Liang Wannian, the team leader of the Chinese side of the WHO-China joint expert team.

Liang said China had shared clinical data of early COVID-19 patients, information from epidemiological surveys, and lab test results with the expert team for joint study and analysis, and the findings were later published in the WHO report.

However, Liang said these data contained personal information and it is against relevant laws and regulations in China to allow the data to be taken to other countries.

The Chinese side had explained the situation to foreign experts, and after reaching a consensus, the data was made available to the joint expert team during their mission, but experts could not take photos or make copy of the raw data, he said.

Liang said China has not purposefully withhold data from the research team, and the credibility of the conclusions from the joint report is not undermined simply because China wants to protect its citizen's privacy by not allowing experts to take their personal data with them to other countries.

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