Australian virologist Daniel Anderson worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology just weeks before the new coronavirus was first seen in the world in central China. Anderson’s testimony about the institute, suspected of being the source of the corona and becoming the world’s most notorious facility, is quite different from what was reported in the media.
Anderson is an expert on bat-derived viruses and is the only foreigner involved in research at the institute’s Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 facility. It was the first facility in mainland China equipped to handle the most dangerous pathogens on the planet. Anderson worked until November 2019 and had the opportunity to see the facility, which was suspected of leaking the coronavirus that led to a pandemic, from an insider’s perspective.
The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, raising suspicions that it had leaked from the institute through infected staff or contaminated objects. The lack of transparency of the Chinese authorities from the early stages of the spread of the corona infection further fueled that speculation. The US administration of Trump at that time advocated the theory of virus leakage from the institute.
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The research content of Mr. Anderson’s colleague at the time, Mr. Shi Zhengli of the same institute called “Batwoman (bat woman)” from the research on the origin of the SARS virus that analyzed bats in the cave is also controversial. The United States has questioned the institute’s safety, pointing out that it may have been conducting “gain of function” research that could further increase the risk of the virus.
However, in an interview with Bloomberg News, Anderson pointed out that the distorted information, which was only partially true, made it difficult to accurately grasp the functions and activities of the institute. He recalls that it was more routine than what was depicted in the media. This is the first time he has given details about his work at the institute.
Anderson, 42, is currently working at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infectious Immunology in Melbourne. In 2016, when he was the science director of the biosafety laboratory at Duke NUS Medical School in Singapore, he began collaborating with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Veterans Affairs.
He recalls being impressed when he first visited the institute before it was officially opened in 2018. It has received the highest designation for biosafety and requires filtration and sterilization of air, water and waste before going outside. Researchers working independently at the institute must be trained for 45 hours, with strict procedures and obligations to contain the pathogens under study.
Last month, US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to conduct further investigations into the origin of the coronavirus and report it within 90 days. Prior to this, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virginology were ill in November 2019 and were being examined at a hospital.
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Anderson pointed out that none of the people at the institute he knew were sick by the end of 2019. “If anyone had been sick, I would have been, but I didn’t,” he said. “I had been tested for corona in Singapore before I was vaccinated and I have never been infected.” It was.
Also, when many of Anderson’s colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Veterans Affairs visited Singapore at the end of December 2019 at a meeting on Nipah virus, it was not said that many people were ill at the institute. In the conversation at the time, there was nothing that made me think that something was happening at the institute.
Most likely a natural source
However, Anderson is well aware that pathogens can escape from the laboratory. He pointed out that there were some cases where the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2002 was leaked from the facility, and said that “I am not naive enough to completely deny the possibility that the coronavirus was leaked from the laboratory.” Nevertheless, we continue to believe that it is most likely a natural source.
Mr. Anderson said that the Wuhan Institute of Veterinary Medicine is large and that he does not know all the work that other researchers were doing at the end of 2019, and that someone intends to infect people. He said he was confident that he had never created the virus and deliberately leaked it.
He admitted that it is theoretically possible for scientists working on “gain-of-function” technology in the lab to unknowingly infect others. However, there is no indication that it happened at the Wuhan Institute, and it is extremely unlikely.
Virus production in this way requires a number of stages of approval and is subject to strict limits by scientific best practices. Even if it is approved, it is not easy to make it successfully.
Targeted by US extremists
Anderson believes there is a need for investigation to determine the origin of the corona and settle the controversy. He said he was amazed at the reports of some non-Chinese media about the Wuhan Institute and the subsequent criticism of scientists.
He is one of the international task force experts organized in November 20 to investigate the origin of the corona. Since revealing false information about pandemics posted online earlier last year, it has been targeted by US extremists and has been kept unobtrusive. Many scientists studying the corona have been threatened for the past year and a half and have been reluctant to say that they are at risk of being misunderstood.
The Last–And Only–Foreign Scientist in the Wuhan Lab Speaks Out（抜粋）