The last and only foreign scientist to work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic, Australian virologist Danielle Anderson, broke her silence on how work was done at the high-containment facility. Spoiler alert: this is at odds with the way some western media tries to portray it.
In his interview with Bloomberg, Anderson explained how he was pleasantly impressed by the laboratory’s custom approach to disinfections and the overall focus on containing the dangerous pathogens studied at the facility. He stressed that all employees with access to the lab had to undergo “very, very extensive” 45-hour training on pathogen management, working with air pressure suits and disinfection. In all other respects, the Wuhan lab was no different from any other facility the 42-year-old expert on bat-borne viruses had worked at.
“Not that it was boring, but it was a normal lab that worked the same way as any other high-containment lab. […] What people are saying [about the Wuhan lab] it’s just not like that, “Anderson said.
The virologist suggested that half-truths and distorted information in the media affected people’s ability to correctly perceive what the laboratory is doing and how it works.
No sign of three mysterious infected employees?
The Wuhan lab faced accusations of accidentally creating and releasing the COVID-19 virus to the world in 2019, with then-US President Donald Trump and his administration being the main propagators of this theory, which Beijing flatly denies until the today. At the time, it was dismissed by the media and medical specialists, but the theory was given new life this spring after the Wall Street Journal published a report claiming that the US was in possession of classified information on three employees of the institute. they needed hospital care. suffering from COVID-like symptoms in November 2019 before the first cases were recorded.
The media never released the names of the three alleged employees, who allegedly could have brought COVID-19 from the lab. However, Danielle Anderson claims that she never heard of any of her colleagues getting sick at any time until their departure from the lab in November 2019, just a month before the suspected start of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, he met many of them in Singapore that same year and did not hear gossip about sick people at the institute.
“There were no talks. The scientists are gossipy and excited. There was nothing strange from my point of view happening at the time that would make you think that something is happening here,” he said.
The virologist added that she did the test herself and it was found that she had never contracted the virus. Anderson further noted that the lab has strict protocols for reporting symptoms that could have been caused by the pathogen a person worked with.
It is not naive to dismiss it
Despite having no concerns about safety at the Wuhan lab, Anderson believes that research on the origins of the virus should be carried out. First, he said that he could not completely rule out the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 (the medical name for the COVID-19 virus) escaping from the laboratory.
“I am not naive enough to say that I definitely rule this out,” said the scientist.
Still, he finds the chances of Chinese scientists intruding into the coronavirus genome (via the so-called “gain-of-function technique”) and then releasing it “extremely slim.”
Second, Anderson is confident that it will take time to determine the source of the virus if it is transferred to humans naturally from animals. It could take up to a decade and that is probably why scientists have not yet found the “smoking gun” bat, which is supposed to have transferred the virus, the virologist added. Anderson said she is convinced the source of COVID-19 was natural.