English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Wuhan Institute of Virology under the scanner again for spreading coronavirus

Chinese doctor and scientists at Wuhan (IANS)

The spotlight is back on the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) with new evidence showing that scientists of the WIV had been bitten by bats, who may have been infected. The Chinese scientists were bitten while collecting samples in a cave – home to coronavirus-infected bats.

A video released by Taiwan News shows WIV scientists conducting research on deadly viruses, working without protective equipment and even getting bitten by bats. The video is from 2017, about two years before the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, with the WIV as a possible hotspot, and spread globally.

Taiwan News reports: "On Dec. 29, 2017, Chinese state-run TV released a video designed to showcase Shi Zhengli, also known as "Bat Woman," and her team of scientists at the WIV in their quest to find the origin of SARS. Despite the fact that the scientists work in a biosafety level 4 lab, they show a shocking disregard for safety when handling potentially infectious bats both in the wild and in the lab."

The video shows poor standards of safety and unprofessional attitude by Chinese scientists as some can be seen holding bats in their bare hands. It  shows other team members collecting bat feces, which can be highly infectious, in shorts and half sleeves with little personal protective equipment (PPE). There are other members in ordinary clothing and some without head coverings – all working in a potentially unsafe and dangerous environment.

The video acknowledges that bat bites can infect scientists even if they are wearing gloves. Another news report by the British newspaper, The Daily Mail says that one of the scientists shares his experience of being bitten. "The bats' fangs had gone through his rubber gloves like a needle while he was collecting samples in a cave in 2017," the newspaper says.

Many of these careless practices indulged in by the WIV scientists violate World Health Organization (WHO) safety rules on PPE.

The revelations come at a time when China is witnessing a sudden spike in coronavirus numbers – its biggest rise in eight months. Millions of people have been put under lockdown around capital Beijing and a high level of emergency has been declared. One person has reportedly died due to Covid-19, months after China had declared the virus under control.

The sudden resurgence in cases just before the arrival of the WHO team raises questions as China had been reporting almost insignificant numbers of daily cases for the last eight months. Simultaneously, it was putting the blame on local coronavirus infections on visitors from other countries and even linking covid cases to various imports.

Currently, world attention is riveted on Wuhan where the WHO team is investigating the origins of the virus – much against Chinese wishes. It has taken months of discussions and hard negotiations before China agreed to allow an international team of experts to land in China to conduct an independent investigation. The reference points for the investigation remain under conflict with China trying to narrow and limit the scope of the WHO team, which is undergoing a 15-day quarantine.

WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus, who has been under fire for an insufficient response to the pandemic, and also for allegedly supporting China over the past year, is also unhappy with the communist country's attitude over trying to stymie investigations into the origins of the virus.