New viruses being discovered are “just the tip of the iceberg,” a Chinese virologist known for her work on researching coronavirus in bats, told Chinese state television, the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
Wuhan Institute of Virology Deputy Director Shi Zhengli, also known as China’s “bat woman,” also urged greater international cooperation in the fight against pandemics.
She stressed that such research needs governments and scientists to be transparent and cooperative, adding that it is “very regrettable”when science is politicized.
Shi explained that “If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings, [because] if we don’t study them there will possibly be another outbreak.”
Accusations by the Trump administration that the virus originated from the Wuhan lab, and that Beijing covered up the initial outbreak, have heightened tensions between the U.S. and China.
Shi, who gave the interview as the annual National People’s Congress meeting of the country’s top leadership started in Beijing, has said that the genetic characteristics of the viruses she has worked with didn’t match those of the one spreading in humans, Bloomberg reported.
She stressed in a social media post that she would “swear on my life” the pandemic had nothing to do with her lab.