The director of a Chinese virology institute in Wuhan, the city where the new coronavirus first emerged late last year, says her centre has three live strains of bat coronavirus but none match the new strain that causes Covid-19.
In an interview with state broadcaster CGTN, Wang Yanyi dismissed reports that the virus now sweeping the world could have originated from the institute.
“This is pure fabrication,” she said. “Our institute first received a clinical sample of the unknown pneumonia on 30 December. After we checked the pathogen within the sample, we found it contained a new coronavirus. We didn’t have any knowledge before that, nor had we ever encountered, researched or kept the virus.”
The virus is widely believed to have come from a live food market in Wuhan – possibly from bats – but US President Donald Trump has suggested that China could be covering up an accidental leak from a lab. China has dismissed the claim.