Virologist Shi Zhengli, who has been at the centre of a slanging match between the West and China, has denied rumours of her defection to the West. "Everything is all right for my family and me, dear friends!" Shi wrote on the social media platform on Saturday, the Global Times reported.
Shi's denial came after 'news' of her defection circulated on social media platforms. "Shi Zhengli director at #Wuhan Institute of Virology has defected with a treasure trove of intelligence to the USA embassy in Paris," claims said, according to GT.
But in her social media post, Shi says she won't defect under any situations. "No matter how difficult, it (defecting) shall never happen. We've done nothing wrong. With strong belief in science, we will see the day when the clouds disperse and the sun shines." Even as her name was associated with the claims that the deadly pathogen might have escaped from the Wuhan virology lab, the scientist had vehemently denied the rumours. Rather, she held onto the public statement that the coronavirus outbreak was nature's way of punishing humans for the 'unsanitary life styles.'
"I promise with my life that the virus has nothing to do with the lab," she had written in early February.
Genetic composition of novel coronavirus
China had been accused of silencing the Wuhan-based virologist who was credited with ascertaining the genetic composition of the new coronavirus strain. Shi was known as the 'Bat Woman' after she discovered dozens of deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves. The critics of China say that, had Beijing not 'silenced' her, development of diagnostic tests and vaccines for Covid-19 would have happened faster.
Chinese authorities had reportedly used her expertise in the gene sequencing of the new coronavirus strain in the first week of January but the Western media says the findings were covered up. According to Scientific American Shi had been called back from a conference to investigate the unnamed diseases at the end of last year. At that time, the virus spread was still in early stage even in China and had not spread to the outside world.
Shi came into the limelight after a Chinese journalist wrote that Shi was 'muzzled' by the Chinese authorities. "We learned later her institute finished gene-sequencing and related tests as early as January 2 but was muzzled," journalist Gao Yu cited her as saying, according to the Daily Mail.