Top scientist demands Wuhan probe as coronavirus 'adapted to infect humans'

A vaccine scientist claims to investigate the origin of Covid-19 after a team of researchers discovered the coronavirus “uniquely adapted to infect humans.”

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, a researcher who led the Australian team, said the virus “is not typical of normal zoonosis [animal to human] infection ‘because it appeared from day one with the’ exceptional ‘ability to invade human bodies.

He added that the virus could have been transmitted by an animal in “a bizarre nature event,” but the theory that it originated in a laboratory couldn’t be ruled out.

Petrovsky, a professor of medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, is leading a biotech research unit that will begin human trials for a coronavirus vaccine next month.

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He said, “I’ve never seen a zoonotic virus that has behaved like this before.”

The professor said The Mail on Sunday that Covid-19 “adapted to infect humans without the need to evolve”.

Prof Petrovsky suggested that the virus could have been transmitted to humans from natural causes, but he did not reject the idea that this pandemic may have originated in a laboratory.

He added, “The implications may not be good for scientists or world politics, but just because the answers can cause problems we can’t get away from it.

“There is currently no evidence of a leak, but there are sufficient indirect data to be of concern to us. It remains a possibility until it is excluded. “

The Wuhan Virology Institute, in the Chinese city where Covid-19 was first identified, has three live strains of bat coronavirus on site, but none match the new infestation causing chaos around the world, the director said.

In an interview with broadcaster CGTN, Wang Yanyi said the center “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats.”

She explained, “Now we have three types of live viruses … But their closest resemblance to SARS-CoV-2 is only 79.8 percent.”

The lab said it received samples of the then-unknown virus on December 30, The Telegraph reports.

Wang said in the interview that before receiving samples in December, their team had never “found, investigated or saved the virus.”

“In fact, like everyone else, we didn’t even know the virus existed,” she said.

“How could it have leaked from our lab when we’ve never had it?”

Top scientist demands Wuhan probe as coronavirus 'adapted to infect humans'

The disease, which apparently came from a fish market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, infected more than 5.4 million people worldwide and killed 344,206, according to the latest figures.

Richard Ebright, one of the world’s leading biosafety experts, told The Mail on Sunday that the potential of the new virus with such rare components and of course happening was “possible – but unlikely.”

Prof Petrovsky said it is essential to identify the source of the virus and that “no one can say that a laboratory leak is not a possibility”.

He also added that if Sars-CoV-2 was a natural occurrence, another related virus could erupt again from the same source, causing “much worse death rates”.

Top scientist demands Wuhan probe as coronavirus 'adapted to infect humans'

Last month, Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, said there should be an international independent investigation into the source of the pandemic in China.

In the original motion of the EU and Australia, the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health were called upon to conduct “scientific and joint field missions” and to “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and its mode of introduction into humans,” including the possible role of intermediate hosts ”.

A UK source said that the London co-sponsored resolution would now call for a review of the international response and that this support was provided by China and the US.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “There will have to be a pandemic review, not least to ensure that we are better prepared for future global pandemics.

“The resolution at the World Health Assembly is an important step in this direction.”


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