Wuhan lab opens doors to refute conspiracies

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 10 Jul 2020

Chinese state media offered a rare glimpse of the lab at the heart of coronavirus conspiracy theories, as it seeks to push back against claims the facility was the source of the global pandemic.

President Donald Trump and other US figures have repeatedly suggested the virus could have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or even been deliberately produced there.

Footage broadcast by state-run CCTV is believed to be the first from within the institute's P4 lab - for highly-dangerous Class 4 pathogens - since its inauguration in 2017.

It included only a few brief shots of actual laboratory areas, taken through thick glass windows. The report said safety protocols prevented closer access.

"There have been no accidents of pathogen leaks or human infections" from the lab, said Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.

"An outbreak and pandemic caused by any infectious disease is bound to be the focus of public attention.

"Because of the fear and feeling of helplessness and also the lack of information, many people would naturally link an area's outbreak to its nearest lab."

The World Health Organization is sending an animal health expert and an epidemiologist to China this weekend to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the animal origins of the new coronavirus.

Yuan said that while some might view the lab as a "secretive black box," he hopes it will become "a platform for international exchanges and to see more foreign scientists come to work in our lab."

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