Earlier this week, a North American study stated that the hypothesis that a next pandemic could be caused by a virus created in the laboratory should not be ruled out, but leaving something clear: it was not what happened with the coronavirus – or at least, not there is concrete evidence for this.
Now, new research by Chinese virologist Li-Meng Yan reports that yes, there is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was “conveniently created” in a laboratory over the six-month period. In the article, published on the Zenote website, Yan and two other researchers report that the virus has biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a natural occurrence, not being a zoonotic virus. The statement has been moving the scientific community since it was published last Monday (14).
The study was made public shortly after Yan gave an interview to the UK’s Loose Women program and claimed that the new coronavirus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, controlled by the government of China. The scientist also says that the information that the virus appeared in a humid market in the city is nothing more than a “smoke screen”, so it hides something much bigger.
It is not the first time that the virologist talks about the subject, as she claims to have already been censored by the country, needing to flee Hong Kong to the United States to raise awareness of the pandemic, saying she did it for fear of not being safe. In addition, the virologist says that before fleeing China, her information was removed from the government’s database.
In December last year, another study by the scientist claimed that the coronavirus had a high transmissibility, with the doctor claiming to have been silenced after presenting the results. However, the laboratory where the research took place, the Hong Kong School of Public Health, says that there are no records of this study and that its new article has no scientific basis.
Controversy and (much) repercussion
With the release of the study and the scientist’s claims, the medical community soon began to speak out on the subject. The Newsweek website spoke to microbial pathogenesis expert Andrew Preston of the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, who said the report should not have any credibility because it has not yet been well reviewed. In addition, Preston says that the document does not have references to prove his accusations, a crucial factor for a study to be taken into account.
Another fact to be questioned is that the article was created by Yan and three other colleagues affiliated with the Rule of Law Society, a society founded by Stephen K. Bannon, Donald’s former adviser. Trump, president of the United States, accused of fraud by the FBI. The foundation also took place in collaboration with Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman who fled the country in 2014 after several charges, such as bribery.
Arinjay Banerjee, a virologist at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, counters the researcher’s claim, which in the article says that the genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 is evidence that it was created using enzymes that function as ” molecular scissors “that add or subtract genetic material. However, the expert says that all DNA sequences in nature have restriction sites. “The evidence presented here is anecdotal,” he says.
Banerjee also questions the claim that a feature of furin cleavage site (cell division), which is part of the spiny protein used to attach to human cells, had been deliberately inserted into the virus, doubting the information.
“The document is not based on an objective interpretation of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The interpretations made are not supported by data, are not substantial and are widely stated, but not explained. The article does not appear to start with an open hypothesis about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 “, completes Preston.
Twitter even suspended Yan’s account, which had just under 60,000 followers, shortly after the new statements appeared in the media. The social network did not want to speak publicly about the case, but in May new rules to combat fake news were implemented with a focus on COVID-19, displaying messages in tweets that could cause confusion for the reader, which could mean some violation of these laws .
Curriculum: who is Li-Meng Yan
Yan has a medical degree from Xyangia Medical College, with a doctorate and a specialization in immunology and virology, and has focused his efforts on studying the new coronavirus. According to the doctor, her reports about the pandemic led her to seek refuge in the United States, where she has already conducted interviews claiming that Chinese authorities are hiding information about the disease that led to a pandemic scenario.
The expert makes statements against the government of China and even the WHO (World Health Organization), revealing that warnings about the lethality of COVID-19 have been covered, as well as its investigations on the subject. China’s embassy in the United States says it does not know who she is and that, contrary to what she accuses, the country fought as it managed to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2.