A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson claims the Wuhan lab researchers deserve the Nobel Prize, as calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the virus that caused COVID-19 may have leaked from the facility resurfaced.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV, is home to China’s first P4 laboratory, which has the highest biosafety rating and can handle the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The lab is only a few miles from a major seafood market in the city that Beijing first identified as the virus’s origin.
The possibility of an unintentional laboratory leak from the Chinese lab was quickly eliminated at the start of the pandemic, but new scrutiny from the White House and prominent scientists, as well as evidence of WIV staff becoming ill prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, has pushed the debate back to the forefront.
Zhao Lijian of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs attempted to deflect attention away from the lab, claiming that the WIV scientists were being chastised for being the first to identify the COVID-19 genome sequence.
“This does not imply that Wuhan is the source of the coronavirus, nor does it imply that the coronavirus was created by Chinese scientists,” he said at a press conference on June 18.
“If those who first publish high-quality viral genomes are accused of creating the virus, then professor Luc Montagnier, who discovered Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), rather than being awarded the Nobel Prize, would be considered the culprit of AIDS, and Mr. Louis Pasteur, who discovered microbes, would be held accountable for the disease-causing bacteria all over the world,” he said.
Using the same analogy, Zhao believes that “the Wuhan team should be awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their research on COVID-19, rather than being criticised.”
Su Tzu-yun, a Chinese critic, described Zhao’s comments as “a clumsy attempt to cover up the truth.”
The virus was not created by the French virologist Montagnier, nor was the bacteria created by Pasteur; as for the COVID-19, a scientific judgement is required, according to Su, director of Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research.
Based on the evidence so far, a lab leak appears to be the most likely source of the virus, he added.
Zhao and other Chinese officials have insisted that the virus originated outside of China, speculating that it could have started on a US military base and spread to Wuhan, or that it was a foreign import that arrived via frozen food.
While the World Health Organization-led panel declared a lab leak “extremely unlikely,” a phrase that the regime has since used to direct a virus investigation to other countries, experts have questioned how much independence the investigators had in drawing those conclusions.
“More evidence is likely to emerge,” Su predicted. “If the virus did spread from abroad, it should have caused a larger outbreak there.” How did it end up exploding in Wuhan? This is incompatible with natural logic.”
“This is not to single out anyone who contracted this disease—it is unfortunate—but the regime’s deliberate cover-up is the most serious issue,” he added.