Wuhan scientists created 'variants of the virus' possibly trying to find a cure for HIV: Russian microbiologist
There is a lot of debate over the exact point of origin of the coronavirus that has left over 200,000 dead globally and crippled the world economy has gained traction over the last few weeks. While rumors are rampant that the deadly virus was transmitted from an animal into a human at a wet market in China’s Wuhan city, other theories that it actually started in a lab in the same city gained prominence later. The US has accused China of failing to prevent the virus from getting leaked accidentally and is holding it responsible for endangering the entire globe, however, Beijing has refused to buy such allegations.
Now, a leading microbiologist from Russia has said something that would add fuel to the speculation. Petr Chumakov, chief researcher at Moscow's Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, has claimed the Chinese were trying to study the pathogenicity of the virus and did not have any evil design to create a bioweapon, something that certain conspiracy theorists are trying to convince the world about.
“In China, scientists at the Wuhan Laboratory have been actively involved in the development of various coronavirus variants for over 10 years,” Professor Chumakov, a man of reputation who is also associated with Russia's Federal Research Centre for Research and Development of Immunobiological Preparations, said.
Chumakov, who felt it is too early to blame anybody, said a probe will anyway be underway and new rules will be in place to regulate the work with the genomes of dangerous viruses. He added that the Chinese scientists created “variants of the virus” without trying to harm anybody. He said they were possibly trying to find a cure for HIV that kills millions of people worldwide every year.
According to him, coronavirus is the result of “absolutely crazy things” that the scientists in Wuhan do in their labs, Daily Mail reported.
“Moreover, they did this, supposedly not with the aim of creating pathogenic variants, but to study their pathogenicity.” The Russian scientist felt the Chinese were doing crazy things like inserting in the genome that empowered the virus to affect human cells. “The picture of the possible creation of the current coronavirus is slowly emerging,” he added.
Speaking to Moskovsky Komsomolets, a Moscow-based newspaper, Chumakov said: “There are several inserts, that is, substitutions of the natural sequence of the genome, which gave it special properties.”
“It is interesting that the Chinese and Americans who worked with them published all their works in the open (scientific) press,” he said. Russia, the northern neighbor to China, has seen over 62,000 getting affected by the virus although its death toll has been low at 555. The US has over 869,000 people affected and nearly 50,000 dead.
Putin's spokesperson also has criticized 'groundless' accusation
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson of Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned this week against accusing any party of having created the virus. “In the situation where there is not enough information that has been supported and checked by science ... we think it is unacceptable, impossible, to groundlessly accuse anyone,” he told reporters on Wednesday, April 22.
Veronika Skvortsova, head of Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency and Russia's former health minister, said only a detailed probe can say whether the virus is manmade, Russia's Channel One reported.