China’s “bat woman” researcher warns that the deadly coronavirus surfacing now is “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of what humans may soon face without a global effort to prevent similar infectious outbreaks.
“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,” Shi Zhengli, a top Chinese scientist specializing in viral transmissions from bats, told CGTN in an interview that aired Monday.
“If we don’t study [the viruses], there will possibly be another outbreak,” warned Shi, who was dubbed “bat woman” by the press because of her research involving the mammals.
The coronavirus has killed more than 345,000 people across the world since it appears to have first surfaced in Wuhan, China, late last year.
The Wuhan lab where Shi is deputy director has been suspected of accidentally unleashing the virus on humans. China also has been accused of not coming clean on the danger soon enough and consistently lying about the virus’ toll on its citizens.
Shi has denied that her lab was involved in the pandemic, saying the strains it has been researching are different. In the interview with CGTN, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Wang Yanyi, said the idea that the virus escaped from the lab was “pure fabrication.”