Virus strains on bats in China lab not matching Covid-19: Director

The Chinese virology institute at the centre of US allegations as the possible source of Covid-19 has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none of them match the pathogen behind the new pandemic, its director has said.

Scientists think Covid-19 — which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal.

But the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster CGTN that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the virus could have leaked from the facility were “pure fabrication”.

In the interview filmed on May 13 but broadcast Saturday night, Wang Yanyi said the centre has “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats”.

“Now we have three strains of live viruses… But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8 %,” she said.

At a media briefing Sunday, Chinese foreign minister rejected America’s “lies” over the coronavirus.

A “political virus” is spreading in the US, causing politicians there to take very opportunity to attack and discredit China, Wang Yi said, speaking at his annual news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People’s Conference (NCP), China’s legislature.

“This political virus uses every opportunity to attack and discredit China. Some politicians have ignored the most basic facts and created too many lies and plotted too many conspiracies against China,” Wang said.

China is open to international cooperation to identify the source of Covid-19 but any probe should be “free of political interference”, Yi further added.

China, he said, was open to “…the international scientific community’s cooperation in virus tracing research. At the same time, we believe that this process should adhere to professionalism, fairness and constructiveness.”

Wang said China and the US need to start coordinating macro policies for their respective economies as well as the world economy.The US should stop wasting precious time, he added.

China remains prepared to work with the US in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, he said.

The investigation should be led by scientists of the World Health Organization, he said.

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