Shi Zhengli, the researcher in China who earned the epithet of ‘batwoman’ owing to her long research in microbes that make the flying mammals their host, has warned that the fatal coronavirus that has afflicted the world is “just the tip of the iceberg”. What humans may soon face, Shi says, without a global effort to prevent similar infectious outbreaks could be much worse.
“If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious-disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings,” Shi Zhengli, a top Chinese scientist specialising in viral transmissions from bats, told CGTN in an interview aired today.
“If we don’t study … (the viruses), there will possibly be another outbreak,” warned Shi. This ‘Batwoman’ studied bats that dwelled in caves in China’s fetid, subtropical regions in the south. She did not venture into the colder parts of the country.
Before the Batwoman could analyse the samples from the patients last year when the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, it was a near-epidemic in China, albeit confined to the Hubei province. Soon, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a global pandemic. The disease has affected more than 3.3 million people worldwide and resulted in 240,000 deaths, says Johns Hopkins University.
And the laboratory that is Shi’s workplace in ground zero Wuhan is now a controversial centre exposed by a 15-page research document that said the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — involving sleuths from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — believes that the virus may have been leaked deliberately from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The research, the report of which came out in early May, accuses the communist government of China of covering up the human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. The exposé says authorities in Beijing lied about the virus’ rapid spread and suppressed information that could help scientists develop a vaccine.
This was besides the guilt China has admitted that it ended up persecuting whistle-blowing doctors—much as the local police were conveniently found as the scapegoats. It was further revealed the Chinese authorities bleached stalls at outdoor markets in Wuhan where the coronavirus the communist government claimed had originated.
The Communist Party of China (CCP) began censoring search engines in December 2019 to people from knowing the truth of the virus, the detectives’ report says. The World Health Organisation (WHO) echoed China’s official assertion and denied human-to-human transmission of the virus at that stage while accepting reluctantly it was a global pandemic in March.
Intelligence agencies had by then gathered proof that China had “evidence of human-human transmission from early December”. However, the communists kept denying it until 20 January, said the dossier.
Now Batwoman warns, “If we don’t study [the viruses], there will possibly be another outbreak.”
Sirf News had reported way back in February that the Wuhan P4 laboratory, of which Shi is the deputy director, was preparing a biological weapon of which the man-made coronavirus was an essential ingredient. But the batwoman denies her lab was involved in the pandemic, saying the strains it has been researching are different.