New Zealand's experts dismiss coronavirus lab-leak theory: media

(Xinhua) 09:48, June 09, 2021

WELLINGTON, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Experts from New Zealand rejected the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 could have originated from a lab, the New Zealand Herald reported Thursday.

"In fact, we don't know where most of the viruses that infect us have come from," Jemma Geoghegan, a virologist from the University of Otago, was quoted by the daily paper as saying.

"This is why we need to sample more viruses in nature and expand our knowledge of the diversity of viruses that exist," she said.

According to Geoghegan, it is possible that the virus crossed from animals to humans, given "a strong precedent" for coronaviruses to have become zoonotic.

Echoing Geoghegan, David Hayman, a professor of infectious disease ecology at Massey University, also believed that a lab-made pandemic is extremely unlikely, as there is no genetic sign of human meddling.

"People really need to understand that viruses do recombine. For example, the novel virus from Malaysia that was recently detected seems to be a recombinant of a cat and dog viruses, which were also previously not known," Hayman was quoted as saying.

"There is a huge amount of data to support this being a natural event," he said.

Also on Thursday, Ananish Chaudhuri, a professor of experimental economics at the University of Auckland, published an article on his own website, in which he said the lab-leak theory is a "campaign to isolate China" from other developing countries "whose markets are much coveted by the Western nations."

"During the pandemic, the Western countries effectively made it clear to developing countries that when it came to vaccines or other help the latter were completely on their own," said Chaudhuri.

"The only feasible option left is to prove to the world that China let lose this pathogen deliberately," he said, adding that such a campaign is full of "baseless canards."

"Scientists should ponder at length before lending their credibility to this smear campaign," he said.

(Web editor: Guo Wenrui, Liang Jun)


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