China's top virologist warns Covid-19 is just tip of the iceberg

A Chinese researcher has warned that the coronavirus is just an 'iceberg tip'

More than 345,000 people worldwide have died since the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, late previous year.

"Our institute first received the clinical sample of unknown pneumonia on December 30 a year ago", she recalled, in an interview to China's CGTN news outlet. Although Shi's team has studied coronavirus samples from bats, Wang said the two strains are not particularly similar in genetic terms.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which houses China's only level-four biosafety lab, has been studying coronaviruses for years, ever since the 2003 SARS epidemic prompted greater research into the role of bats in spreading such viruses.

She stressed that such research needs governments and scientists to be transparent and cooperative, adding that it is "very regrettable" when science is politicized.

The director of Chinese virology institute of Wuhan has said that three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site but none of them match with the novel coronavirus that has wrecked chaos in the world.

Wang Yanyi continued: 'We know that the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 is only 80 per cent similar to that of SARS. She said that this virus is "just [the] tip of the iceberg". One of them has the highest similarity, 96 percent to the SARS virus.

The United States and Australia have called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.


"Now we've got three breeds of viruses that are life..."

He said China would be "open" to worldwide cooperation to identify the source of the novel coronavirus, as long as any investigation is "free of political interference".

Shi said the institute is committed to transparency and shared all available data with the world in a timely fashion, noting that the World Health Organization was well-informed about the breakthroughs which had been made at an early stage.

"In fact, like everyone else, we didn't even know the virus existed", she said. "These aren't the first times that we have had the world exposed to viruses as a result of failures from a Chinese lab". It has strong ties to the Galveston National Laboratory in the University of Texas.

Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) director Wang Yanyi described the theory - that Covid-19 was a creature of her laboratory - as "pure fabrication".

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The Wuhan institute has both P3 and P4 labs.

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