Virus leak claims false, bat coronavirus strains being studied weren't COVID-19: Wuhan lab
The bat coronavirus strains were being studied by a team which has been focussed on source tracing the virus behind the SARS epidemic since 2004.
The director of the Chinese virology institute in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 cases were first identified, has said that while there were three live strains of bat coronavirus in their labs — none of them match the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed over 340,000 lives worldwide.
Claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the virus could have been leaked from their facility were “pure fabrication”, Director Wang Yanyi said in an interview with Chinese broadcaster CGTN. “Their highest similarity to COVID-19 only reaches 79.8 per cent,” Yanyi said.
The bat coronavirus strains were being studied by a team, which was focused on ‘source tracing of SARS’ — the viral respiratory disease that had plagued 26 countries across the world, 17 years ago. The team, led by Professor She Zhengli, had been researching bat coronaviruses since 2004.
“We know that the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is only 80 percent similar to that of SARS. It’s an obvious difference,” Yanyi said in an interview.
Earlier this month, President Trump had claimed that he had evidence to prove that the coronavirus had originated from the virology institute in Wuhan, despite US intelligence agencies’ stating that the virus was not manmade.
Globally over 5.3 million cases have been recorded, with the US accounting for more than 1.6 million of them. The death toll in the US is fast approaching the 100,000 mark.