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Has the deadly Corona virus escaped from a Chinese biological laboratory?

2020-01-25T14:28:09.603Z



A report in the Daily Mail raises an exciting possibility, that the new Corona virus - which has killed 41 people so far in China - has infiltrated a Chinese biological laboratory to cause this frightening outbreak.

The Chinese authorities put 1,200 paramedics on call only in Wuhan, while the National Health Committee of China announced that the death toll in the country due to HIV infection had risen to 41, and confirmed cases had reached 1,287 people in 30 provinces as of Saturday, including 500 cases In Wuhan.

In her report published in the British Daily Mail newspaper, the author, Natalie Rahal, said that scientists warned in 2017 that a virus similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) could spread outside a laboratory established that year in Wuhan, China, to study some of the most dangerous pathogens in the world .

The author added that China has set up the first five-to-seven biomedical laboratory planned, and is designed to provide the utmost safety in Wuhan in 2017, to study the most serious pathogens, including Ebola and acute respiratory syndrome.

In a statement to Nature that year when the laboratory was on the eve of opening, Maryland Biosafety Adviser Tim Trivan said he was concerned that China’s culture would make the institute unsafe, because “the structures in which everyone feels free to speak and share information are important.” ".

According to an article in the "Nature" magazine, the SARS virus had previously leaked several times from a laboratory in Beijing.

Wuhan Laboratory
The author stated that the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is located about 32 km from the Huanan Seafood Market, and it is believed that the market is the epicenter of the outbreak of the virus, and some questioned whether its presence near the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is just a coincidence, but the scientific community currently believes that The virus mutated across humans and transmitted to them through animal contact with humans on the market.

But “at this stage, there is no reason to raise doubts” about whether the facility has anything to do with the virus outbreak, except that it is responsible for studying the genetic material of viruses, allowing doctors to diagnose it, according to Dr. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, For the Daily Mail.

The author indicated that the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, located at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, had been established, hoping to help China contribute to research on the world's most dangerous viruses.

The laboratory built in 2015 was still subject to safety testing, but was about to open in 2017. Such a laboratory is the first of its kind in the country designed to meet the standards of Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4) and is the highest level For biological hazards, this means that the laboratory will be qualified to deal with the most serious pathogens.

The author added that it is necessary that the laboratories designed according to the Biosafety Level-4 standards are equipped with air-tight protective suits or "safe" workspaces responsible for containing viruses and bacteria that can be transported through the air in sealed boxes that scientists reach. Using high-quality connected gloves.

There are around 54 laboratories designed according to the Biosafety Standard-4 standards worldwide.

Plans
In an interview with Nature magazine, laboratory director Yuan Zemin said that the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory had planned to study the acute respiratory syndrome virus. In January 2018, the laboratory worked on "conducting global experiments with Biosafety Level 4-pathogens," according to Gucchan Wu in the Journal of Biosafety and Health.

After the leakage of the acute respiratory syndrome virus from another laboratory in 2004, Chinese officials worked to improve safety and also expand the country's ability to continue studying the same viruses that had emerged from its laboratory.

"After a laboratory leakage incident for the acute respiratory syndrome virus in 2004, the Chinese Ministry of Health began building conservation laboratories dedicated to high-level pathogens, such as the acute respiratory syndrome virus, corona virus, and the pandemic influenza virus," he said.

The author explained that it is not clear what or where these laboratories are located. It is worth noting that the Wuhan Laboratory was also equipped to carry out animal research. And in 2017, scientists who spoke to Nature recognized the opportunity this laboratory offers to develop vaccines and treatments.

Less strict
The rules for animal research are less stringent in China compared to the United States and other western countries, which means that these studies are less expensive and face fewer barriers that can reduce or slow them down; but that was a source of concern to the Maryland Biosafety Adviser Tim Trivan.

The author pointed out that studying a virus like the new corona and developing treatments or vaccines for it requires infecting monkeys with this virus, which is an important step before testing in humans, but Dr. Richard Ebright warned that monkeys ’behavior cannot be predicted, saying," You can run , It can scratch and it can bite. "The viruses that carry it can spread to the touches of their feet, nails, and teeth.

Source: aljazeera

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