The director of the Chinese laboratory accused by U.S. media of being a possible source of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has categorically denied any responsibility for the virus.
“There is no way the virus came from us,” Yuan Zhiming, director of the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the pandemic, said in an interview with China’s state-run CGTN television channel.
Most scientists have concluded that the coronavirus was probably transmitted to humans by an animal, with many suspecting a market in the city of Wuhan because live wild animals were reportedly sold there. However, the presence of the virology institute a few kilometres away has fuelled a new hypothesis, for some months now, that the virus had been leaked from there.
“We clearly know what kind of research is going on in the institute and how the institute manages viruses and samples,” Yuan Zhiming said.
The institute has a P4 laboratory, a top-security installation that contains the most dangerous strains of the Ebola virus.
Simply because the institute is located in Wuhan, people keep coming up with conspiracy theories, the director said, accusing the media of deliberately trying to mislead the public with information based entirely on speculation, instead of evidence.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing had warned the U.S. authorities in 2018, after many visits to the institute, of apparently insufficient security measures at a laboratory, which was studying coronaviruses that came from bats.