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‘It couldn't have happened,’ says head of Chinese lab accused by US of leaking Covid-19

‘It couldn't have happened,’ says head of Chinese lab accused by US of leaking Covid-19
A Chinese virologist in charge of the lab pinpointed by US officials as the likely source of the Covid-19 pandemic says he is certain no virus could have escaped from his facility.

“Our lab not only has a high level of biosafety infrastructure, we also have established a set of rigorous biosecurity protocols to ensure the lab operates safely and efficiently,” Yuan Zhiming the head of the National Biosafety Laboratory (NBL), told a Chinese newspaper.

The NBL operates several laboratories including the so-called ‘Wuhan P4 Lab’, which was completed in 2015 in cooperation with France and is the only publicly known site in China with a biosafety level four rating, the highest possible.

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Top US officials, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have claimed there is abundant evidence that the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan city started with a leak of the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which hosts the P4 lab. Some US media reports have claimed safety was substandard at the Chinese institute, citing past concerns of US diplomats.

Yuan gave an interview to the Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to respond to negligence actuations coming from Washington. He described in detail the P4 lab’s construction, which features a “box-in-box” structure and negative pressure equipment, plus operational and security procedures, personnel training and independent supervision. “All these measures have ensured no virus can be leaked from the lab,” he stressed.

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The US has been accusing China of covering up the severity of the outbreak in Wuhan, an approach apparently leading to a demand for compensation from Beijing for the damage caused by the virus. China managed to isolate the initial outbreak in Wuhan city with tough quarantine measures, but the coronavirus spread to other countries.

The US currently leads in terms of identified cases and fatalities from Covid-19, with the death toll standing at over 80,000. Domestic critics of President Donald Trump have accused him of botching the nation’s response to the health crisis.

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