China is attempting to lead the world to believe the Wuhan Institute of Virology deserves a Nobel Prize for Medicine. Chinese state-run media explained, “The award is mainly given to individuals or research groups who have made or demonstrated significant achievements in the past five years.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a Thursday press conference that the scientists working at the WIV should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine instead of being blamed for being the first to discover the gene sequence of the novel coronavirus.
Therefore, at the end of last week, the Chinese Academy of Sciences nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for its “Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize.” Specifically, China named Shi Zhengli, a.k.a. “Bat Woman” and Yuan Zhiming, director of the WIV’s Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.
Anything with the word “Biosafety” seems to have failed miserably; just another form of proof that China has zero intention of taking responsibility for its actions, nor cooperating with the world on finding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The fact that the Chinese government insists the Wuhan Institute of Virology deserves celebration is another indicator that it intends to change nothing in the aftermath of the pandemic. In her recent brief interview with the New York Times, Shi Zhengli said that “bat viruses in China could be studied in BSL-2 labs because there was no evidence that they directly infected humans.” (Biosafety-level-2 laboratories are designed to work with moderately dangerous viruses such as staph infections, hepatitis, or HIV. Biosafety-level-4 facilities work with the most dangerous viruses, particularly contagious pathogens such as Ebola and Marburg.)
Shi’s argument wants it both ways. Part of the argument in support of the zoonotic theory of SARS-CoV-2’s origins is that new viruses jump from animals to people all the time, and thus that is what most likely happened in this case. (Note that past research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, studying the people who lived closest to the known habitats of horseshoe bats in Yunnan Province, found that just 2.7 percent of people have antibodies indicating past exposure to bat viruses.)
One option is that indeed, it’s extremely unusual for bat viruses to infect human beings — which makes SARS-CoV-2 extremely different from most viruses found in horseshoe bats, suggesting something about the virus may have changed or been altered to make it more contagious among human beings. Or another option is that it isn’t so rare for bat viruses to infect human beings, which would suggest that these viruses shouldn’t be studied in BSL-2 laboratories. Pick one.