Who is Shi Zengli? China 'Batwoman' says Covid-19 didn't stem from her lab, condemns politicization of science

Zhengli, deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, retested blood samples taken in 2012 from four miners who fell ill after clearing bat feces from a copper mine in Yunnan province in China


                            Who is Shi Zengli? China 'Batwoman' says Covid-19 didn't stem from her lab, condemns politicization of science
(Getty Images)

Shi Zengli, known for her research on coronavirus in bats, shared new tests suggesting the Covid-19 virus did not originate at her lab in Wuhan. Zhengli, the deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, retested blood samples taken in 2012 from four miners who fell ill after clearing bat feces from a copper mine in Yunnan province in China. The results show that none of them were infected with Covid-19, The South China Morning Post reported. Previously, President Donald Trump's administration has made accusations that the coronavirus, which has infected over 58 million people worldwide, originated at her Wuhan lab.

Zengli had earlier asserted that the viruses she has worked with don't match the genetics of Covid-19. She said, "We suspected that the patients had been infected by an unknown virus. Therefore, we and other groups sampled animals including bats, rats, and musk shrews in or around the cave." According to the report, one of the samples from the miners contained the bat coronavirus RaTG13. Now, in her latest update, Zeling added, "In 2020, we compared the sequence of Sars-CoV-2 with our unpublished bat coronavirus sequences and found that it shared a 96.2 percent identity with RaTG13."

Zengli also said that greater international cooperation in the fight against epidemics is of utmost importance. Calling the politicization of science "very regrettable", she said, "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. If we don't study them there will possibly be another outbreak." In the past, President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have continuously suggested covid-19 is linked to the Wuhan laboratory.

Who is Shi Zengli?

Zhengli is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. She's the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In 2017, Zengli and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of bats in a remote region of Yunnan. She rose to prominence in the press as "Batwoman" during the pandemic for her work with bat coronaviruses and was is included in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Zengli is a member of the Virology Committee of the Chinese Society for Microbiology. She's also the editor of the Board of Virologica Sinica, the Chinese Journal of Virology, and the Journal of Fishery Sciences of China. She has received awards and titles such as the 2016 Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes académiques, 2018 State Natural Science Award (Second Class), and February 2019 Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

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