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HomePoliticsWorldWuhan Institute's confidentiality 'hampering' search for coronavirus origin

Wuhan Institute’s confidentiality ‘hampering’ search for coronavirus origin

But the Chinese Academy of Sciences is so impressed, it has nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for that country's top science award

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A review of the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology’s public records and internal guidelines show that the laboratory has many unspecified classified projects amid calls for reinvestigation into what is now being called the “Lab Theory” for the origin of the coronavirus.

Records from the lab mention “protocol for disclosing information to foreigners” and calls for of research reports for up to two decades, as per a report by the Washington Post. It says that this has hampered the search for the origin of the novel coronavirus or Sars-CoV-2.

The Wuhan institute has been under intense global scrutiny after the initial Covid-19 outbreak in the city soon became a worldwide pandemic that is still raging in waves across countries.

In China, information related to the military and diplomatic affairs, economic, scientific and social development is deemed to be confidential and the country has a significantly lower threshold for what constitutes confidential as per its State Secrets Law, the report noted.

The Wuhan facility was set up over 10 years ago. It is well versed in handling confidential information and China updated its State Secrets Law in March 2014, citing growing threats to national security.

While the confidential files at the Wuhan institute are unclassified, information guidelines suggest the sealed documents cover matters deemed “secrets, research and work secrets, matters under investigation, and disclosures that would violate the law”.

The ‘lab theory’ which claims that the Covid-19 virus is man-made, albeit the incident of the pathogen coming out could be accidental, has gained prominence after US President Joe Biden pushed for “redoubled efforts” to determine the source of the virus and the country’s chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci — whose own dealings with the Chinese has raised many eyebrows — said the possibility cannot be ruled out.

China has, of course, denied responsibility for the outbreak.

But China is rewarding Wuhan Institute

Amid mounting suspicion of a deliberate unleashing of a biological weapon or possible virus in a lab accident, Wuhan Institute of Virology has been nominated for China’s top science award, according to a local media outlet Sina News. The Chinese Academy of Sciences reportedly nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for conducting “the most comprehensive and systematic identification research on the aetiology of Covid-19”.

“The project’s results have laid an important foundation and platform for the follow-up research on the origin, epidemiology, and pathogenic mechanism of the Covid-19 virus,” the Chinese Academy of Sciences was quoted as saying in multiple reports.

Shi Zhengli, who directs the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, also received a special mention from the academy. Last year, Shi, known as batwoman for her work on coronaviruses in bats, said that Sars-CoV-2 was just “the tip of the iceberg” and called for an advanced study of the unknown viruses. However, the virologist has repeatedly dismissed the claims of a possible lab leak.

The hypothesis of the introduction of Sars-CoV-2 through a laboratory incident has gained credence in recent weeks, with a renewed demand for a new “transparent” investigation into the virus origin. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which moved a laboratory on 2 December 2019, denied disruptions or incidents caused by the move.

China has now been trying to put blame on the United States for the devastating pandemic after the US National Institutes for Health (NIH) published a study that showed at least seven people in five states were infected with Sars-CoV-2 weeks before the country reported its first official cases. Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has demanded the second phase of investigation into the origins of Covid-19 should be conducted in the United States.

“All bio-weapons related subjects that the country has should be subject to scrutiny,” state-run Global Times quoted Zeng as saying.

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