Public/Global Health

Last foreign scientist to work at Wuhan lab: ‘What people are saying is just not how it is’

The last foreign scientist to work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology spoke out for the first time in an interview with Bloomberg published on Sunday, telling the publication, “What people are saying is just not how it is.”

Australian virologist Danielle Anderson, an expert in bat-borne viruses, told Bloomberg that working at the lab in Wuhan was a lifelong career goal.

“It’s not that it was boring, but it was a regular lab that worked in the same way as any other high-containment lab,” Anderson told Bloomberg. “What people are saying is just not how it is.”

Anderson was in Wuhan in 2019 when the COVID-19 virus first began to spread. Anderson told Bloomberg that she was impressed by the biocontainment lab at the institute and said researchers had to undergo 45 hours of training to be certified to work independently in the lab.

“It’s very, very extensive,” Anderson said of the training.

Anderson also said that no one she knew at the Wuhan lab when she was working there was sick, noting that there is an extensive procedure for reporting symptoms that relate to the pathogens that are handled at the lab.

“If people were sick, I assume that I would have been sick—and I wasn’t,” Anderson said. “I was tested for coronavirus in Singapore before I was vaccinated, and had never had it.”

Bloomberg notes that in December many of Anderson’s collaborators at the lab would later join her in Singapore in December, and she said no one reported any illnesses spreading through the lab.

“There was no chatter,” Anderson said. “Scientists are gossipy and excited. There was nothing strange from my point of view going on at that point that would make you think something is going on here.”

Anderson acknowledged that she could not completely rule out the possibility that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, originated from the lab, though she stated she still believes the virus likely originated in nature. Anderson put her support behind an investigation to find the origins of COVID-19.

“I’m not naive enough to say I absolutely write this off,” Anderson said.

“The pandemic is something no one could have imagined on this scale,” she added. “The virus was in the right place at the right time and everything lined up to cause this disaster.”

Former President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the virus originated from a lab, calling for China to pay reparations for the pandemic.

Health experts originally wrote off the theory as baseless. However, in recent months experts like President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, have acknowledged that there could be some credence to theory that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab.

In an interview published earlier this month, Fauci called on China to release the medical records of researchers at the lab.

“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019,” Fauci told the Financial Times. “Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?”

Top Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli, a longtime colleague of Anderson and a director at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, denounced the lab origin theory in comments made to The New York Times that were published in June.

“How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?” Shi said to the Times. “I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist.”

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 pandemic Donald Trump Investigations into the origin of COVID-19 Joe Biden Wuhan Wuhan Institute of Virology

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