Wuhan Institute of Virology’s ‘Batwoman’ Shi Zhengli Says Another COVID-19 Outbreak ‘Highly Likely’

Alex Wu
By Alex Wu
September 30, 2023China News
Wuhan Institute of Virology’s ‘Batwoman’ Shi Zhengli Says Another COVID-19 Outbreak ‘Highly Likely’
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China's Hubei Province, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese top virologist Shi Zhengli, also known as “Batwoman” for her work on bat coronavirus research, warned that a future outbreak of coronavirus is “highly likely” in her recently published research article.

Ms. Shi is the director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Center at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Her team has been conducting risky viral research on bat coronaviruses and cross-species infections, as well as gain of function research for years. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been widely suspected of having a virus lab leak accident, which caused the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019 and led to the global pandemic.

Ms. Shi stated in a research paper titled “Assessment and sero-diagnosis for coronaviruses with risk of human spillover” published in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections in July that her team has found as many as 40 coronaviruses that can infect humans, half of which are “high risk” of causing human outbreaks. Six types of coronavirus have been found to be infective to humans and cause illness, and another three types of coronavirus can be transmitted to other animals after causing illness in humans.

“We conducted comprehensive analysis to all known alpha and beta coronavirus species and pinpointed a list of 20 CoV species with high risk of human spillover, which could be the causative agent of a future outbreak,” wrote Ms. Shi et al.

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli (L) is seen inside the P4 laboratory
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli (L) is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei Province, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Ms. Shi and her colleagues warned in the paper: “It is almost certain that there will be future disease emergence and it is highly likely a CoV disease again. Thus, the early preparation for the animal CoVs with risk of spillover is important for future disease preparedness, regarding the likely animal origin of SARS, MERS and COVID-19.”

At the Center of Controversy, Investigations

Shi and the Wuhan Institute of Virology are at the Center of the controversy and global investigations related to the origin of COVID-19 disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

On April 24, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a letter to the Chinese Embassy in the United States. In the letter, in addition to asking the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stop interfering with the COVID-19 virus origin tracing, they requested the Chinese regime to make five people “available for in-person, transcribed interviews related to the origins of COVID-19.”

Ms. Shi, Director of the Research Center of Wuhan Institute of Virology, is one of the five.

NTD Photo
Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

On Aug. 31, Ms. Shi was officially selected for the list of candidates for the additional election of academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which caused controversy on media and social media, with people questioning her role in causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sept. 17, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the CCP to provide full access to a second group of WHO experts in Wuhan, China, to restart the virus origin tracing investigation. He once again urged Beijing to provide more information on the origin of the virus that caused COVID-19. The CCP has not responded.

Concerns Over the Next Outbreak

Ms. Shi’s warning of a future outbreak caused by coronaviruses like COVID-19 has attracted wide attention and sparked concerns in recent days, given the rising COVID-19 infection numbers worldwide and the continuing virus mutation.

On Sept. 20, the U.S. government announced that it would restart the free COVID-19 testing program and provide $600 million in financial support to manufacturers of COVID-19 testing kits.

Li Longteng, former deputy director of Taiwan’s Department of Health, told The Epoch Times, “She (Shi Zhengli) knows it firsthand, of course she’s able to predict that the outbreak will definitely occur again.”

Current affairs commentator Qin Peng told The Epoch Times on Sept. 27: “I believe what she said is true. She is the world’s top expert on coronavirus.”

NTD Photo
Medical workers check on an elderly patient arrives to an emergency hall in a hospital in Beijing on Jan. 7, 2023. (Andy Wong/AP Photo)

He said, “We have seen some signs that the COVID-19 is actually re-surging in mainland China. There are new outbreaks of it in some cities.”

According to Chinese media reports and posts on Chinese social media, many hospitals in China have been overcrowded. Peng Jie, director of the Diagnostic and Treatment Center for Difficult Infections at Southern Medical University Nanfang Hospital, told the media that the vast majority of patients now are infected with COVID-19 or influenza A.

Regarding Ms. Shi’s warning of another outbreak, Mr. Qin said that “the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by the leak of the CCP laboratory and the CCP’s laissez-faire. Now (Shi Zhengli) is just issuing a warning, which is not a solution to the problem.”

“To solve the problem, they need to open all virus libraries actually owned by Wuhan Institute of Virology to the World Health Organization experts for research, and they cannot continue to be the private property of the CCP,” he said.

However, Mr. Qin believes that it is impossible for the CCP to open up further and allow the WHO to conduct further research or provide more information. In fact, the CCP has destroyed many precious materials, including some specimens.

Mr. Li said: “I just hope they won’t release it [virus] again, otherwise it will get worse and worse. I think that scientists should have a conscience and not do things randomly. This is not good for the whole world.”

Creating Another Deadly Virus

On Aug. 21, Ms. Shi published another research article titled “Characterization of a mouse-adapted strain of bat severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus” in Journal of Virology.

Mr. Shi and other researchers obtained the mouse-adapted strain SMA1901 by serially passaged bat-derived coronavirus in mice.

NTD Photo
White rats in the lab ready for experiments. (NiDerLander/iStock)

Sean Lin, a microbiologist and former laboratory director at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, pointed out in “Health 1+1” on NTD on Sept. 22, that Ms. Shi has never stopped her research on bat coronaviruses and cross-species infections, and gain of function research. “Although the mouse adapted virus sounds harmless, in fact, Shi and her lab created another dangerous new virus strain through the gain of function.

“Shi’s method through gain of function is more dangerous, because they created a new virus strain in the lab by manipulating and altering the genome of the virus, which is highly risky.”

Mr. Lin said that Shi’s experiments and research on bat viruses, cross-species infections, and gain of function, increased the risk of human infections, and made the new strain on mice more pathogenic.

Huang Yun and Luo Ya contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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