The Chinese virology institute at the centre of United States allegations it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new global contagion, its director has said.
Most scientists say the pathogen that has infected 5.3 million and killed more than 342,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species likely sold at a wet market in Wuhan late a year ago.
In an interview on Saturday, Wang told CGTN state broadcaster that the Wuhan lab had "isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats".
"These viruses exist in nature whether we admit it or not".
She also underlined the need for global cooperation to find answers to questions such as where the viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2 are.
Shi Zhengli stated if we do not research the unknown viruses there could be one other outbreak.
Wang Yanyi continued: 'We know that the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 is only 80 per cent similar to that of SARS.
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Asked about funding to the facility being suspended, Shi said: "I think now that science has been linked to the politics which makes science politicized".
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 U.S. intelligence agencies' stating that the virus was not manmade.
Wang said that her institute first received the clinical sample of the unknown pneumonia on December 30 previous year.
Wang Yanyi said in the interview that before it received samples in December, their team had never "encountered, researched or kept the virus". "How can it have leaked out of our laboratory when we had it?"
Shortly after this, Beijing alerted the World Health Organization to the virus, just as media reports started circulating of the first Wuhan residents being hospitalized with fever and lung failure.
In an interview with Scientific American, Shi said the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence did not match any of the bat coronaviruses her laboratory had previously collected and studied.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats, with another animal thought to have acted as an intermediary host. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information.