The thesis that Covid-19 was created in a laboratory in China is not new. Donald Trump came to defend it, Luc Montagnier, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008, also subscribed to this hypothesis and characterized the Wuhan market (where the virus will have appeared) as a “laboratory” that specializes in several “types of coronavirus” . Now, a work by Roland Wiesendanger, physicist and professor at the University of Hamburg who claims to be “99.9% certain that the new coronavirus came out of a laboratory”, reignites the debate reported by several German media outlets such as Der Spiegel or German public television, NDR . However, the work is not consensual and several peers even consider that “neither study should be called”, according to ZDR television.
This was at a time when the World Health Organization delegation concluded its visit to China without reaching any conclusions about the origin of the new coronavirus but excluding the hypothesis that it had a laboratory origin. However, WHO director Thedros Ghebreyesus said that all hypotheses remain open, while a Chinese ruler says the focus of the study should be on the United States and not on Wuhan.
This Sunday, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to US President Joe Biden, stressed that China has not made available “Enough important data” about where the coronavirus was born and how it spread.
“They are about to publish a report on the origins of the pandemic in Wuhan, China, which we have doubts about, because we do not believe that China has made enough data available on the origins, on how the pandemic started in China, and then around the world, ”he told CBS News.
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The work of the German physicist was developed between January and December 2020 and, despite not “providing strictly scientific evidence”, the author admits that he was able to collect “consistent evidence” that the virus left a laboratory.
And there are several arguments that Roland Wiesendanger favors to prove his point. First points out that no intermediate species has yet been detected to facilitate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens from bats to humans. Regarding animal origin, which the WHO delegation was unable to identify, he stresses that bats were not sold in the Wuhan market.
In addition, the author stresses that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is one of the research centers that has collected the most information on bat diseases, even investigating those in distant caves in southern China, which raises even more suspicions due to the proximity of the market and the institute.
And he goes so far as to claim that there is a group of scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who genetically manipulates the category of coronaviruses in order to make them more contagious, dangerous and deadly to humans. “This is documented”, he signals. The significant security problems in the research center are also one of the arguments used by the study.
Roland Wiesendanger also suspects that the first person infected with Covid-19 was a scientist at the Wuhan Institute and that Chinese authorities even started investigating this research center in October 2019.
Furthermore, it advances that Covid-19 is “Surprisingly good” to attach to cell receptors, as well as to penetrate them, made possible by cell receptors that bind with coronavirus protein cleavage. This biological process is new in this type of virus – which for the study’s author indicates an inorganic and artificial origin of SARS-CoV-2.
Several peers criticized the work developed by Roland Wiesendanger. They point out that the study uses questionable sources, such as YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles, information shared on Twitter and an article from the magazine “Focus”.
“It is just a compilation of known documents and theories about a possible accident in the laboratory”, describes Volker Stollorz, editor-in-chief of the Science Media Center, heard by the German television channel ZDFheute, who adds: “It cannot and should not be called a study”. The lack of primary sources is one of the most criticized points of the work and Volker Stollorz also considers that it was not thought for the “scientific community”, but for “the public”. “Any journalist could have found that out,” he says.
The German television network also consulted Björn Meyer, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who countered Roland Wiesendanger’s arguments. First, it points out that just because there are no bats for sale in the Wuhan market it does not mean that the disease has not spread for that reason. Second, Meyer also rejects the idea that the Institute of Virology should aim to make coronaviruses more dangerous – rather, it was intended to study them and analyze the transmission of disease from animals to humans. As for the virus information to penetrate human cells more easily, the virologist points out that it is indeed a novelty, but there is no information to suggest that this effect was created in the laboratory.
The issue has even more controversy since the study was published under the seal of the University of Hamburg. On the university institute’s personal Twitter account, the work was even advertised and placed as pin tweet, thus obtaining more prominence.
Broad discussion as a goal: Prof. Roland Wiesendanger has published a study in which he sheds light on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. His result: the number and quality of the evidence suggest a laboratory accident. https://t.co/6XurnDBHAj
– University of Hamburg (@unihh) February 18, 2021
A broad discussion as an objective. Professor Roland Wiesendanger published a study in which he sheds light on the origin of the new coronavirus pandemic. Your result: the number and amount of evidence suggests a laboratory accident ”, but no se tweet.
However, Der Spiegel, a university spokesman, was more cautious in assessing the nature of the study, saying only that he does not exercise “any censorship on the research objects and the results of their scientists”.
The origin of the new coronavirus has been shrouded in controversy, especially after the World Health Organization (WHO) visit to Wuhan, which ended up gathering little information on the subject. WHO director Thedros Ghebreyesus even said that all hypotheses remain open about the origin of the virus.
Wuhan. WHO investigation did not identify animal that transmitted SARS-CoV-2
China has always rejected the idea that it created the virus in the laboratory. After the WHO left for Wuhan, the chief Chinese epidemiologist, Zeng Guang, considers that the country that should be the “focus” in efforts to try to unravel the origin of the virus must be the United States, according to CNN.
In recent days, WHO has also dismissed the Chinese hypothesis that the virus’s origin had come from contaminated frozen food.
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