Chinese scientists mapped Covid virus 2 weeks before world knew: Report | World News - Hindustan Times
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Chinese scientists mapped Covid virus 2 weeks before world knew: Report

Jan 18, 2024 03:12 PM IST

The Chinese scientist who uploaded the Covid sequence in 2019 never responded to the US' request for more technical details.

Chinese researchers had mapped the Covid-19 virus in December 2019, at least two weeks before Beijing revealed it to the world, documents related to the US Congressional investigation accessed by The Wall Street Journal revealed.

An illustration of the novel coronavirus seen next to a health care worker at a Covid-19 testing centre in New Delhi(HT)
An illustration of the novel coronavirus seen next to a health care worker at a Covid-19 testing centre in New Delhi(HT)

The documents said Chinese researchers uploaded a nearly complete sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the US government-run database on December 28, 2019. However, Chinese officials shared the data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) only on January 11, 2020.

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Also read: Covid-19 vaccine lowers risk of Long COVID in children: Study

The new revelation poses questions about the level of access China had to the deadly virus and the extent to which the outbreak, which caused millions of deaths in the months to come, could have been controlled had the world been aware of it just two weeks earlier.

Defending its government's administrative move, a Chinese embassy spokesperson told the US daily that their Covid response policies were “science-based, effective and consistent with China's national realities.” “China has kept refining our Covid response based on science to make it more targeted,” the official said.

Chinese scientist Dr Lili Ren, who uploaded the Covid sequence in 2019, never responded to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) request for more technical details. Eventually, the data was removed from the government database and was never published. Later, on January 12, 2020, the NIH published a fresh Covid virus it received from a different source.

Meanwhile, a recent study revealed that Chinese scientists are experimenting on what is considered to be a deadly virus dubbed GX_P2V, having a 100% capacity to kill mice – whose brains were engineered similarly to the genetic matrix of humans. Interestingly, the novel virus resembled characteristics of SARS-CoV-2.

According to the study by the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, published on bioRxiv, the mice lost a substantial amount of weight within five days of infection, their eyes turned white and they died after eight days. Scientists wrote that they were surprised to see such a rapid death rate.

After close analysis, they found that the virus had infected mice's lungs, bones, tracheas, brains and eyes. The primary cause of death was a severe infection of their brains.

Several experts raised concerns after the study was uploaded online, calling it “scientifically totally pointless”. Epidemiologists said there is “nothing of vague interest that could be learned” from force-infecting a weird breed of ‘humanised mice’. Another scientist said, “This madness must be stopped before it is too late”.

Read the full study here.

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