No leak from Wuhan Institute of Virology, says BBC

On 1 March 2023, the BBC reported [1] that the head of FBI, Christopher Wray, had said in a Fox News interview:

“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the coronavirus pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident”.

The lab in question is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese state institution, where research into coronaviruses had been going on for many years.

The BBC website contains solid evidence [2] that undermines the theory that the Sars-CoV-2 virus leaked from this Institute.  However, the BBC made no reference whatsoever to this evidence in its reporting of the FBI assessment that such a leak is the “most likely” origin of the virus.  Instead, the BBC presented it as one of two equally probable options, the other being a so-called zoonotic spillover event when the virus was transmitted from animals to humans.

The BBC describes the Wuhan Institute in the following terms:

“The institute is the world’s leading authority in the collection, storage and study of bat coronaviruses. Its researchers are led by star scientist Professor Shi Zhengli – known as “Bat Woman” to her colleagues because of her expertise. They have spent years collecting samples from live bats in remote Chinese caves.”

Here’s the evidence from the BBC website which undermines the lab leak theory:

“While the lab leak theory has smouldered away both online and in Washington political circles, it has largely been dismissed by scientists.  It is a scientific consensus that has, in turn, fed into mainstream media coverage, with now wide acceptance that a natural, spillover event is the most probable cause of Sars-CoV-2.

“The dismissal is based not just on the fact that such spillovers have happened before, but on a key piece of evidence that has come from Prof Shi Zhengli herself.

“Concerned to rule out her lab’s involvement in the outbreak, according to the Scientific American interview, she began “frantically” searching the experimental records and samples already stored in her lab.

“Her February paper [3] reported what she said was the closest match she was able to find.  A virus, which she named RaTG13, collected from a bat in 2013, showed a 96.2% similarity to Sars-CoV-2.  Although that sounds close, the 3.8% genetic difference between the two would, estimates suggest, take decades of evolutionary change to occur in nature.”

“If Sars-CoV-2 had leaked from her collection of coronaviruses, the lab would have contained either Sars-CoV-2 itself, or something much, much closer related [my emphasis].

“‘That really took a load off my mind,’ Prof Shi told Scientific American. ‘I had not slept a wink for days.’”

The Scientific American article referred to above is How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus by Jane Qiu published on 1 June 2020 [4].


Another article by Jane Qiu entitled Meet the scientist at the center of the covid lab leak controversy was published by Technology Review in February 2022 [5].  In it, Qiu asked Shi to comment on the abuse she has suffered as a result of the false accusations that a leak from her lab had killed millions of people.  Here’s her response:

Not surprisingly, the allegations have taken a personal toll. “I’m a human being as well, you know,” Shi told me. “Have they considered what it feels like to be wrongly accused of unleashing a pandemic that has killed millions?” 

Since the outbreaks, Shi has received numerous abusive emails and phone calls, even death threats. She has been called a liar, a mass murderer, and an accomplice of the Chinese Communist Party (even though she’s not a member). In May 2020, it was falsely rumored that she had defected to France with nearly 1,000 classified documents. 

At Shi’s bat-themed office, I asked her how the past two years have marked her. Her girlish face suddenly dimmed. “I can’t bear looking back,” she said, and turned her head away.  A long silence ensued. 

“I used to admire the West. I used to think it was a just and meritocratic society. I used to think it must be wonderful to live in a country where anybody could criticize the government.”

“What do you think now?” I pressed.

“Now I think if you are Chinese then it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job—because you are tried by nationality,” she said. “I’ve now realized that the Western democracy is hypocritical, and that much of its media is driven by lies, prejudices, and politics.” 

Shi paused and drew a sharp breath. Her body tensed, blood flushing her cheeks. The air swelled and seemed to grow hotter.

“They’ve lost the moral high ground as far as I’m concerned,” she said. And if politics overpowers science, “then there will be no basis for any cooperation.”

David Morrison

11 March 2023








On 8 March 2023, the Daily Telegraph published an article by its science editor, Sarah Knapton, entitled No one believed the Covid Wuhan lab leak theory – then the world changed its tune.  She wrote:

“Even Wuhan scientists themselves were concerned. Dr Shi Zhengli, WIV virologist, told Scientific American that she remembered thinking if coronaviruses were behind the outbreak ‘could they have come from our lab?'”

This was accurately taken from the Scientific American article referred to above.  The same article went on to report that Dr Zhengli satisfied herself that the coronaviruses behind the outbreak did not come from her lab.  I quote:

“[Dr Zhengli] frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences [from infected patients] matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves. ‘That really took a load off my mind,’ she says. ‘I had not slept a wink for days.'”

Understandably, the Telegraph article didn’t mention that.  

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