The Wuhan Institute of Virology could be in line to receive the Nobel Prize, despite the lab’s complicity in the COVID-19 pandemic that killed millions worldwide in 2020.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) nominated the embattled Wuhan Institute of Virology for (WIV) the Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize, and subsequently named Shi Zhengli (the “bat woman”) and Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, as outstanding contributors, according to the state-run Global Times.
The possibility of such an outlandish atrocity came from officials with the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which indicated that the lab deserved the prize, refuting claims in the U.S. that the virus was created and leaked from the Wuhan lab.
“I want to stress that in March, the WHO released the origin-tracing study report of the China-WHO joint mission, drawing a clear conclusion that a lab leak is extremely unlikely,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said during a June 17 press conference.
Origin-tracing is about rigorous scientific research, not far-fetched connections. Prof. Luc Montagnier was awarded Nobel Prize for discovery of HIV; Mr. Louis Pasteur was honored for finding of microbes; WIV deserves Nobel Prize, not criticism, for its study of COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/C0mNl7xdpq
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) June 17, 2021
Zhao added that just because the genome sequence was discovered by Wuhan scientists does not implicate them as engineers of the novel coronavirus.
More from the Global Times on the justification for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination:
CAS said the WIV quickly carried out pathogen identification after the outbreak of COVID-19, completed the entire virus genome sequencing and virus isolation within a short time, confirmed that the COVID-19 virus shares the same functional receptor as the SARS virus, systematically analyzed the basic biological characteristics of the virus, and revealed that coronavirus carried by bats may be the evolutionary ancestor of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy followed up claims in a Newsweek report that the coronavirus was not man-made or leaked from the Wuhan facility.
“Researcher Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, denounced the ‘lab leak theory’ as baseless in the interview on June 14,” Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., said Sunday.
Despite the Chinese government’s dismissal, and subsequent failure to hold the Wuhan Institute of Virology accountable, there is indeed growing speculation that China knew what was happening inside the lab.
In a May 23 report, The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers working inside the Wuhan lab became ill in November 2019, that they required hospitalization.
The WSJ report was based on a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report and came roughly a year after former President Donald Trump claimed he’d seen evidence that the virus was leaked from inside the Wuhan lab.
Reports of Chinese citizens becoming ill from this virus emerged in late 2019, prompting Trump to impose travel restrictions from China to the U.S. in January 2020.
The virus, however, spread rapidly, which forced the near-complete shutdown of the U.S. economy, which had seen record-breaking success during the Trump administration.
In April 2020, Fox News reported that the U.S. Intelligence community was investigating whether the virus originated inside the lab, or within a nearby wet market, as the Chinese government claimed.
Despite Trump’s claims in 2020, many within the Republican leadership, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham,
Meanwhile, recent reports indicating the likelihood that the virus originated from the Wuhan lab have provided Trump with the assurance that he was right about the origin of the “China Virus.”
“Now everyone, even the so-called enemy, are beginning to say that President Trump was right about the China Virus coming from the Wuhan Lab,” Trump said in a June 3 statement.
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