A Chinese virologist, Shi Zhengli is the “Bat Woman” who discovered the gene sequence of coronavirus within few days of the first case of COVID-19. For sixteen years she has prepared to battle against the deadliest outbreak. She was then silenced from revealing the incredible discovery about the novel coronavirus, fuelling the fears of being covered by the authorities.
Zhengli is one of the top researchers and discovered several deadly viruses in bat caves. She studied the samples taken from the people infected with the mysterious novel coronavirus and found it almost similar to SARS. The virus was identified as a novel virus and she completes the gene sequencing with three days and found it 96 per cent similar to the virus found in horseshoe bats in Yunnan.
The claims recently emerge after the cover-up by the authorities in China who failed to inform and warn the people early. They failed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus that firstly emerged in Wuhan and then become a pandemic, leading to millions of infection and tens of thousands of fatalities due to the virus.
Gao Yu, a journalist said that he spoke to the Shi Zhengli during confinement in Wuhan, which was lockdown for over two months, Shi told that her findings were kept concealed. The journalist said that they later confirmed that her institute completed gene-sequencing and other related tests as early as 2nd January but was hushed up. The information related to the gene-sequencing of the virus was not shared with the public until a week later.
It is now being used worldwide to find a vaccine and cure for the deadly and highly contagious virus that has already killed 113,000 people and infected almost 1.8 million people around the globe. For Zhengli, the completion of gene sequencing of the coronavirus is the consummation of her more than 16 years work, which as listed her as one of the world’s top researcher in her field.
When she received the call on December 30, just after the samples of the first infected patient arrived at the laboratory in Wuhan, she knew that she would be fighting against her worst nightmare. She has one constant fear; the novel virus had been accidentally released from her lab. For the 16 years, Zhengli has been working with the bats and found the subtropical Chinese areas posed the highest risk for the transmission of the coronavirus from animals to humans.
Zhengli said that she never expected that it would happen in central China, Wuhan. She was at the conference when she got a terrifying call that would change the world’s course. Two hospitalized patients experienced an unusual type of pneumonia. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention needed her expertise over the fears that a novel virus could be a risk to public health.
Zhengli and her team worked hard to find the gene sequence of this novel virus as COVID-19 spread around the globe like wildfire and became a pandemic. But this was the moment she worked her entire career working towards. She travelled to bat colonies in caves near Nanning, described as ‘spellbinding’. Her work was quite hard with risky descents into bat caves and long hikes. She was the part o a team searching for the origin of the SARS epidemic after the researchers from Hong Kong had reported that civets had been the source of the virus and found in the subtropical regions of Africa and Asia.
Bats are believed to responsible for six coronaviruses outbreaks, including the novel coronavirus outbreak, but experts say problems only occur due to direct contact of humans with the bats. China has recorded the highest number of cases in almost six weeks, overriding fears of another wave of COVID-19 after easing the restrictions and social distancing.