The Frightening COVID Origin Charge Against China’s Shi Zhengli, Wuhan’s Bat Virologist

It was at 7 pm on December 30, 2019, that Shi Zhengli, the Director of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), says she received her first intimation about what would later turn out to be SARS-CoV-2, better known around the world now as the virus behind COVID-19. The institute’s Director had allegedly called her to tell her that samples had come in from a hospital of patients who were suffering from an atypical pneumonia thought to be from a coronavirus. She was told to drop everything she was doing, return to WIV, and begin studying it. She returned to Wuhan, over 800 km away, by train. What had happened in the 16 years before that and what transpired in the 1 year and 5 months after, may hold the key to answering perhaps the biggest prevailing question in the history of humanity – What is the precise origin of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Until about March-April 2021, it appeared at face-value that the world and the scientific community were satisfied that the most likely scenario was that SARS-CoV-2 had come to infect humans naturally due to the close interaction between animals and humans. The idea was essentially that a coronavirus from a bat had ‘jumped’ to another species and then infected a human host. Another theory, that the virus may have been ‘lab-made’ at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was almost ruled out of consideration. Why is this? Was it not true that Shi Zhengli and her team had collected over 19,000 bat-related samples over 16 years since the SARS outbreak? It’s a matter that Zhengli also thought about. Perhaps not that it was ‘lab-made’, but definitely that it could have been one of the viruses that was being studied there and may have escaped. However, she later went on to give herself a clean chit. But the reasons for this are debatable, as are other aspects.

Over the next several months, the outbreak played out on the world stage. Within 2 weeks of having been tasked with studying the virus, her team had already sequenced & cultured it, and published and shared the genome sequence with the WHO. Shortly after that, but long before the outbreak revealed its true ‘pandemic’ form and had only killed 80 people, Zhengli and team published an article[1] on Nature identifying the bat as being the most likely reservoir source of this new pneumonia outbreak. In this Feb 2020 paper (dates are important) they cited that the new virus’s sequences share 79.6% sequence identity to the SARS virus and are over 96% identical to a (specific) bat coronavirus. Additionally, they conclusively claimed fairly early on in the piece that outbreak began from a local seafood market – something Shi has publicly gone back on while maintaining that traces of the virus were found on door handles and such.

In light of what you are about to read, both these last two pieces of information – the specific bat coronavirus that is 96% similar and the alleged food market origin – are the start of a series of mentions, citations, statements, articles, interviews, claims and assorted on-record items from Shi Zhengli that come together to tell a very murky tale. That is what we will look at here – a compendium and critical analysis of what has been said by one of the most prolific and seasoned bat coronavirus collectors in the world – who just happened to work for 16 years to stop another SARS coronavirus outbreak only to see the biggest conceivable such pandemic break out right at her doorstep.

Whilst examining these statements in the context of the narrative at the time, we will also ask questions relating to her decision-making, and the reason why certain things in published materials are written the way they are. But before we can commence with a forensic study of Shi Zhengli’s statements, a hypothesis must be presented about the virus she mentioned is 96% similar[1] to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that is named RaTG13 – as every mention of this virus from Zhengli may be key.

The RaTG13 Bat Coronavirus & the fatal mystery respiratory pneumonia that killed 3 miners

In April 2012, 6 miners had allegedly fallen sick with a mystery pneumonia and respiratory disease that resulted in the deaths of three of them. They had been working to rid an abandoned copper mining cave of bat faeces (guano). In later months of that year, Shi Zhengli and her team received four sero-samples from three patients who had survived and one who had died. She then tested the samples against Ebola, Nipah and SARS and found them to be negative. Between then and 2015, Zhengli and her team collected 1322 samples from those caves, finding 293 diverse coronaviruses[2]. Eight of these were beta-coronaviruses, and one of these eight was RaTG13, which had been described in a 2016 study[3] under the name RaBtCoV/4991. This virus was different (divergent) from the SARS virus and ‘could be considered a new strain of this virus lineage.’ SARS & MERS had also been caused by beta-coronaviruses.

Two years later, in 2018, RaTG13 was sequenced more completely[2], and two more years later, when it was compared with SARS-CoV-2 in 2020, the two were found to share a 96.2% similarity[1]. However, in a November 2020 addendum[2] to the earlier mentioned Feb 2020 paper on COVID-19’s probable origin, Zhengli reported that she had tested the samples of the miners (all the way back from 2012) for SARS-CoV-2, and found them to be negative. I.e. the miners hadn’t been infected with COVID-19, she concluded months after the COVID-19 lab-leak theory had begun doing the rounds. Rather, it is claimed in at least some published items and news articles that the miners had likely caught a fungal infection from the bat droppings, and weren’t suffering the effects of RaTG13 or any other coronavirus, though Shi claimed they would have had they remained in the mine for a longer period. They had perished of a fungal pneumonia at a place where the established reservoir carriers of the SARS pneumonia dwelled in bulk.

To cut a long and complex story short – a mystery respiratory pneumonia that infected 6 people in 2012 and killed 3 of them led to finding the RaTG13 virus that is now thought to be the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2. However, as per Zhengli, RaTG13 did not cause the fatal infections of the miners. In fact, according to what the WIV virologist told the WHO’s probe team in Feb 2021[4], “there’s a low likelihood of RaTG13 being the precursor of SARS-CoV-2.” But is that really the case?

RaTG13 Backbone + Pangolin Coronavirus Spike Protein[7] = ?

In subsequent paras, we shall explore more about the similarities between the two, and also, pertinently, how the 3.8% difference between them pertains to a cleavage site activated by a host-cell enzyme furin and part of the spike protein (called RBD) that decides the binding with a host cell and leads to an infection. Interestingly, a March 2020 paper[5] (by the Andersen group) that is one of the two key papers that dispelled the notion of a ‘lab-made virus’ a bit too early refers to ‘natural selection’ (evolution) at least once in the context of RaTG13, stating that some pangolin coronaviruses are similar to SARS-CoV-2 in terms of RBD and concludes this to be clear evidence of natural selection – meaning that the paper appears assured that the infectability of SARS-CoV-2 may actually have come from Pangolins. The similarities (and differences) between RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 come up repeatedly in published materials and in at least a few cases, speak about ‘gain of function’ research, given that RaTG13 cannot on its own infect humans.

Was Wuhan Institute of Virology conducting ‘Gain of function’ Coronavirus research? Yes, and with rising scope.

Very controversial and also illegal on various fronts, gain-of-function research describes medical research where a pathogen or disease is mutated in a manner so as to increase/widen its infectability. It is conducted in the hope of getting a head start on any potential virus outbreak. In October 2014[8] the US government had instituted a funding pause on gain-of-function research to do with SARS, MERS and influenza viruses. This pause was lifted in December 2017[9]. Shi Zhengli has been known to have conducted ‘gain of function’ research, and has stated since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out that she has never failed to report any gain of function research.[6] (meaning that she has reported it all.)

Coming back to RaTG13, in this context, a May 2021 article[10] by Ariel Fernandez remarked on the un-likelihood of RaTG13 and a pangolin coronavirus infecting the same cell in the same organism and also says that RaTG13 has a low affinity for pangolins, playing down the chances of a chimera like SARS-CoV-2 emerging from this combination zoonotically (jumping from an animal to another on its own). Then, in the very next paragraph the study states that Shi Zhengli’s group at the Wuhan lab has been conducting gain-of-function recombinations since 2007 where the objective has been to assess ‘spillover effects’ wherein the coronavirus jumps from one species to another. In Shi’s case, the latter species was humans, with a series of ‘bat-(to)-man’ spike proteins made.

Another paper[11], published in November 2020 by Rossana Segreto and Yuri Deigin, mentions how in 2015, Shi Zhengli and her frequent gain-of-function collaborator Ralph Baric published ‘the most famous gain-of-function virology paper’[12], again to do with spike proteins (the parts that determine what species the virus can infect). Here, they created a chimeric coronavirus with the spike protein from bat coronavirus SHC0140-CoV and a mouse-adapted SARS backbone, giving the mouse-adapted virus the capability to infect humans. An article[13] in Nature had opposed this experiment shortly after it was published, and intriguingly, 2015 is the same year when The Australian[14] claimed Chinese military had allegedly discussed turning the SARS coronavirus into a bioweapon. Then, in what must have been an annus mirabilis, Shi Zhengli in 2016 reported[15] isolating and characterising the novel bat coronavirus closest yet to the SARS virus – related directly to her presumed mission for the last 12 years. The virus was named SL-CoV WIV16 (for SARS-Like Coronavirus Wuhan Institute of Virology 2016) and was concluded to be the ‘the closest ancestor to date’ of SARS (called SARS-CoV). Their similarity, a deafening silence-inducing 96%.

With a big breakthrough to their credit, in 2017[16], the Shi Zhengli group at WIV proceeded to create perhaps the largest reported number of novel chimeric viruses – 8 – from bat SARS-like viruses. Two of the 8 strains were found to possess the ability to bind to the human ACE2 receptor – just like SARS-CoV-2. Essentially, here is proof not only that the Shi Zhengli group was performing gain-of-function research, but also that it had opened the floodgates after three tumultuous years at the zenith of coronavirus research, succeeding in creating chimeric viruses that could bind with human cells.

The ‘Big Bang’ of COVID-19’s Origin: When Shi Zhengli’s account breaks down

It was at 7 pm on December 30, 2019, that Shi Zhengli, Principal Investigator at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, received a call from her institute’s director informing her of samples that had come in of patients who were suffering an atypical pneumonia. The cause had already been established to be a novel coronavirus (novel meaning previously unknown) by the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention, as per an interview[17] she gave to Scientific American in Feb 2020, published on March 11. In another interview[18], given in August 2020 to China’s state-run CGTN, she stated that by Noon the next day – December 31, 2019 – she had received the partial genetic sequence of the virus. Basically, between getting a phone call at 7 pm the previous night from her boss telling her to drop everything and work on this virus, till noon the next day, she had travelled 800 km by train from Shanghai to Wuhan and had already partially sequenced the virus. And that’s not all… she had already given herself a clean chit, though there are two accounts as to when.

In the interview with Scientific American, Shi Zhengli had revealed that she and her team had already started discussing testing the patients’ samples while she was on the train back to Wuhan. At this point, she had a specific urgency in doing so. A novel coronavirus infection coming to light in Wuhan was an unlikely phenomenon. Bats, a known reservoir of coronavirus, were less likely to be found in urban areas like Wuhan and more likely in areas like Yunnan in the tropical south of China where Shi Zhengli and other researchers camped every year for bat sampling. She had put 2 and 2 together and surmised that there was cause for concern that the virus could have come from her Wuhan lab.

However, she would later go on to ‘breathe a sigh of relief’, in her own words. The question, however, is when? As per the Feb 2019 interview to Scientific American, this happened days later, described as follows:

“Shi instructed her group to repeat the tests and, at the same time, sent the samples to another facility to sequence the full viral genomes. Meanwhile, she frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves. “That really took a load off my mind,” she says. “I had not slept a wink for days.””

On one hand, Shi Zhengli says she hadn’t slept for days before finding out that the virus wasn’t one of the specimens from her lab. On the other hand, as per her interview to CGTN in August 2020, months after the WIV had been accused globally of potentially having caused the outbreak, she recounted having had her moment of relief on Dec 31 itself! Shi describes:

“With a scientific and responsible attitude, I checked our lab research on bat coronaviruses first. Then, at noon on Dec 31 we got the partial genetic sequence of the virus. After comparing the sequence of this virus with the published and unpublished virus sequences in our lab, we concluded that this was a novel Coronavirus. That was when I confirmed this was a newly discovered virus and had nothing to do with a lab leak or anything else.”

This is corroborated in a written email interview[6] she had with Science Magazine in their July 2020 issue, where she describes:

“We received the first batch of samples from seven patients on December 30 2019. Using pan-coronavirus RT-PCR and quantitative RT-PCR, which can detect all SARS-related coronaviruses, we found samples from five patients were positive. On December 31, when analyzing the sequencing result of the RT-PCR product, we identified that it was a novel SARSrelated coronavirus. We then confirmed the result via different methods and performed full-length genome sequencing as well as virus isolation. We released the genome sequence to the global public on January 12 via WHO.”

Did Shi Zhengli’s recollections change between Feb 2020 and July/August? Whichever way one looks at it, within hours or days, Shi Zhengli had already self-established that the virus had nothing to do with Wuhan Institute of Virology, or her work. She also gives herself a clean-chit to CGTN in the following way:

“Another piece of evidence I can give you is that our lab has been doing research for 15 years and all our work has been published. We also have a library of our own genetic sequences and we have experimental records of all our work related to the virus which is accessible for people to check. So when we didn’t find such a virus in all our experimental activity, we can say it did not originate in our lab.”

But this needn’t be entirely true. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s main database of samples and viral sequences is said to have gone offline in September 2019 (and then presumably come online again at some later point) but in May 2020 it was said to once again no longer be accessible. This becomes particularly problematic for a number of reasons, one example of which is the flip-flop over the sequencing of RaTG13.

RaTG13 returns at critical times twice; Shi Zhengli Tests Miners Who Died In 2012 For COVID-19

Shi Zhengli told Science Magazine that RaTG13 was first detected by her team in Tongguan town of Yunnan province in 2013 after which its partial sequence was obtained. But despite the lengths she had gone to finding this beta-coronavirus, since it had a low similarity with SARS, she says she did not pay close attention to it. (Or to the miners, who were alleged have died of fungus pneumonia – apparently case closed). However, in 2018 she returned to RaTG13, to sequence it completely, citing new technology. At this point, the remaining samples from 5 years earlier ran out.

Now pay careful attention, here’s where it gets interesting again –

In November 2020[2], Shi Zhengli published an addendum in Nature to her Feb 2020 paper where she had first identified the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how it had turned out to be 96.2% similar to RaTG13. The addendum was only about RaTG13 and makes two key points:

Shi Zhengli’s WIV lab still had samples of the miners who had died in 2012! These samples were re-tested, this time for SARS-CoV-2. They were, however, found to be negative. Zhengli (who had by this point been asked questions enough times to know the importance of dates) stated that the sequences of SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 had only been compared in ‘2020’ and been found to be 96.2% similar. So what, if anything, had she been feeling relieved about on December 31, 2019, when she had purportedly determined that the novel coronavirus was unlike anything she’d had in her lab till that point? How could she stand by her moment of relief if she hadn’t even tested SARS-CoV-2 against RaTG13, its closest known relative?

COVID-19’s Origin: ‘Wet Market’ Theory The Biggest Damp Squib Of All time?

Much like what’s said about the Big Bang in theoretical physics, clearly, a number of assertions made by Shi Zhengli and the Wuhan Institute of Virology begin to break down the closer one gets to T=0. There are more, many more, most important of which is ‘What exactly is T=0 for COVID-19?’ According to Zhengli’s first paper on the topic (Feb 2020[1]) the epidemic actually started on December 12. It is not stated why this is the case, but in the next paragraph it does state just as casually that it began at the local seafood market. She was asked about this notorious ‘Wet market’ theory in the Science Magazine interview; here are the question and the answer:

Q: An early cluster at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan led many to think that an animal there somehow infected humans. How has your thinking about the seafood market’s role evolved as it became clear that many of the earliest cases are not linked to it? A: As you pointed out, some early patients do not have a history of Huanan seafood market exposure. We detected SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids in environmental samples from sources such as rolling door handles, the ground and sewage in that market, but we did not detect any SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids in frozen animal samples. The Huanan seafood market may just be a crowded location where a cluster of early novel coronavirus patients were found.

Why then had she been in such a hurry to state so conclusively in Feb 2020 that the outbreak had begun at the wet market? Was the idea simply to name a place in the city where a transmission animal (the one that had caught the virus from bats, like Civet cats in case of SARS) could be found? Had the truth really been that the virus had actually ‘escaped’ (by infecting someone) from the Wuhan Institute of Virology? The answer to this, as per Shi Zhengli, is nothing short of startling:

“To date, there is “zero infection” of all staff and students in our institute,” Zhengli claimed to Science Magazine in their July 2020 interview, claiming that they had recently conducted a serosurvey of all their staff and found them all to be negative for COVID-19 antibodies, meaning none of them had been infected ever! Consider this claim against the Wall Street Journal’s (really The Australian’s[14]) report that three researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology who had been working with coronaviruses had became so ill in November 2019 that they’d needed hospital care, with symptoms allegedly consistent with both COVID-19 and influenza.

The International Chimeras who shadow ‘Bat-Woman’ Shi Zhengli

And then there are the all-too-enthusiastic opponents of the ‘lab-leak’ theory, who never quite leave it at just one thing, but appear to resurface over and over, much like chimeras themselves. Number 1 on this list is Peter Daszak, chief of something called the ‘EcoHealth Alliance’, which used to receive funding from the US (the NIAID run by Dr Anthony Fauci) till the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding, Daszak has been a long-time collaborator of Zhengli and an active proponent of the need to conduct gain-of-function research. Daszak, apart from seemingly lurking around corners in proximity to Zhengli, is also found in three places:

In a quite shocking and unscientific letter published in the Lancet[19 – below] in Feb 2020 where he, representing a bunch of other public health scientists, claims to:

“Stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.”

In various interviews of Shi Zhengli, including the highly suspect one by Scientific American, where he is revealed to be on a virus-hunting spree with scientists in 30 countries and advocates hunting down other pathogens to “prevent similar incidents from happening again” – a noble endeavour surely, though perhaps a little presumptive given that COVID-19 had itself barely got out of the blocks by that time. Where was Daszak, for instance, when SARS-CoV-2 needed to be stopped from reaching other shores?

Thirdly: Unbelievably, despite having expressed such strong opinion about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, that too via a statement that’s more politics than science, Daszak found himself travelling to China again in 2021 as a part of the WHO’s probe team to find the origin of COVID-19!

Another person of interest is Kristian G Andersen, who in March 2020 published a much-cited article[5] in Nature called “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” that concludes that “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”. This comes full circle in Shi Zhengli’s Science Magazine article where she cites the paper to dispel the link between RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2, even though the part she cites is nothing she hadn’t already cited in her own very first study. This particular paper, by the Andersen group, meets its match in an equal and opposite paper[11] titled ‘The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin’ by Rosanna Segreto and Yuri Deigin.

WHO’s Team Finally Reaches Wuhan Institute of Virology… Eventually

Lastly in this set of arguments, we come to Shi Zhengli’s most recent activities. On Feb 3, 2021, a team constituted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to probe the origin of COVID-19 visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology[4]. In the days before that, after completing the 14-day quarantine they had been forced to complete upon their much-delayed arrival in China, the experts had visited the hospitals where the first COVID-19 patients had been brought (starting December 27, 2019 apparently) and, incredibly, also the Huanan Seafood market as well as another even bigger food market!

Then, finally, months after just about everyone had dismissed the wet market theory (meaning there simply wasn’t a plausible natural emergence theory by this time) the WHO team reached the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where they were spoken to by Shi Zhengli. As per the WHO report, Zhengli told the team, among other things, about RaTG13’s similarity with SARS-CoV-2 and the low likelihood that the former was the latter’s precursor, and also informed them of the gain of function research she had conducted since 2015 and had been conducting a set of experiments starting 2018 that it did not finish due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s director answered the question about the alleged cases of WIV staff going to hospital in November 2019, and claimed that a retro-study had been conducted from 1001 samples at the hospital (but not from staff at WIV) and no evidence of COVID-19 infection had been found.

With regards to the dead miners, Zhengli revealed to the panel that her team had visited the bat cave 7 times over 3 years to collect samples of novel viruses but they didn’t find anything like the SARS virus, and since the pandemic, visits to the cave had found no viruses like SARS-CoV-2. Essentially, the RaTG13 wasn’t to be found there anymore.

It added: “Some reports identified one former laboratory worker as “missing”. This person according the WIV staff was an alumnus who graduated in 2015 and was now working in a different province and did not accept to talk with media. The person had been contacted and tested and ascertained to be healthy.”

On the missing database, it added: “The rumour about missing data was discussed. This related to an Excel spreadsheet that had been on the website for 10 years as part of a national databank of samples. It had been used for internal analyses and metadata. It had been planned to make this an interactive system with visualized data to fit in with the national system. They received attacks from hackers – more than 3000 cyber-attacks, so was kept offline.”

Finally, in a corner of the 313-page report, the WHO panel gives its arguments for and against the lab leak theory of COVID-19’s origin.

Arguments in favour:

Although rare, laboratory accidents do happen, and different laboratories around the world are working with bat CoVs. When working in particular with virus cultures, but also with animal inoculations or clinical samples, humans could become infected in laboratories with limited biosafety, poor laboratory management practice, or following negligence. The closest known CoV RaTG13 strain (96.2%) to SARS-CoV-2 detected in bat anal swabs have been sequenced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Wuhan CDC laboratory moved on 2nd December 2019 to a new location near the Huanan market. Such moves can be disruptive for the operations of any laboratory.

Arguments against:

The closest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 from bats and pangolin are evolutionarily distant from SARSCoV-2. There has been speculation regarding the presence of human ACE2 receptor binding and a furin-cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2, but both have been found in animal viruses as well, and elements of the furin-cleavage site are present in RmYN02 and the new Thailand bat SARSr-CoV. There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019, or genomes that in combination could provide a SARS-CoV-2 genome. Regarding accidental culture, prior to December 2019, there is no evidence of circulation of SARS-CoV-2 among people globally and the surveillance programme in place was limited regarding the number of samples processed and therefore the risk of accidental culturing SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory is extremely low. The three laboratories in Wuhan working with either CoVs diagnostics and/or CoVs isolation and vaccine development all had high quality biosafety level (BSL3 or 4) facilities that were well-managed, with a staff health monitoring programme with no reporting of COVID-19 compatible respiratory illness during the weeks/months prior to December 2019, and no serological evidence of infection in workers through SARS-CoV-2-specific serology-screening. The Wuhan CDC lab which moved on 2nd December 2019 reported no disruptions or incidents caused by the move. They also reported no storage nor laboratory activities on CoVs or other bat viruses preceding the outbreak.

Assessment of likelihood:

In view of the above, a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely.

(…Unsurprising, seeing the watered-down ‘arguments for’.)

The Final Secret of COVID-19: ‘WHO’ will go and find out?

At the time that the fairly dumbfounding WHO report was published (Science Magazine did a far better job in its email interview with Shi Zhengli) there was much less clamour for a serious probe into COVID-19’s origin. At the time of publishing of this article, however, the situation has changed markedly, with a growing list of countries and scientists demanding a fair and open probe and the US managing to get a rise out of China on an almost daily basis. What is also relevant is that there are, and have always been, a lot of questions raised within China as well. Inch by inch, the shroud around Wuhan appears to be lifting, revealing a fortress-like Wuhan Institute of Virology from whose gates Republic has reported. Do the answers still lie within, buried deep in its catacombs? One thing is for sure: If they do, Shi Zhengli knows.

References and citations

[1] A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin

[2] Addendum: A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin

[3] Coexistence of multiple coronaviruses in several bat colonies in an abandoned mineshaft

[4] WHO-convened global study of origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part

[5] The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2

[6] Wuhan coronavirus hunter Shi Zhengli speaks out

[7] Isolation and Characterization of 2019-nCoV-like Coronavirus from Malayan Pangolins

[8] Gain of Function Research

[9] US government lifts ban on risky pathogen research

[10] Molecular Biology Clues Portray SARS-CoV-2 as a Gain-of-Function Laboratory Manipulation of Bat CoV RaTG13

[11] The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin

[12] A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence

[13] Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research

[14] Intelligence on sick staff at Wuhan fuels lab leak debate

[15] Isolation and Characterization of a Novel Bat Coronavirus Closely Related to the Direct Progenitor of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

[16] Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus

[17] How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus

[18] Liu Xin’s exclusive interview with China’s ‘Batwoman’

[19] Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19 [https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30418-9/fulltext]