Prominent Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli, renowned for her extensive work on animal-origin viruses and often referred to as “batwoman,” has issued a sobering caution regarding the potential emergence of a new coronavirus in the future.
Shi, who leads the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, stressed the global imperative of preparing for such outbreaks, drawing lessons from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
With over two decades of experience in coronavirus research, Shi and her team at the Wuhan Institute of Virology published a paper in July 2023; in this paper, they evaluated the risk associated with 40 different coronavirus species spilling over into human populations.
Alarmingly, half of these species were categorized as “highly risky.” Among them, six species have already been confirmed to cause diseases in humans, and evidence suggests that three others have caused diseases or infected various animal species.
The study’s conclusion was unequivocal, stating that “it is almost certain that there will be future disease emergence, and it is highly likely a [coronavirus] disease will emerge again.”
This research was based on a comprehensive analysis of viral characteristics, including factors such as population dynamics, genetic diversity, host species, and previous instances of zoonotic transmission—instances where diseases jump from animals to humans.
Furthermore, the study identified key hosts of these pathogens, encompassing natural hosts like bats and rodents, as well as potential intermediary hosts like camels, civets, pigs, or pangolins, where they developed rapid and precise testing tools for actively monitoring these high-risk viruses.
Shi’s recent paper gained significant attention on Chinese social media, coinciding with a decision by US federal agencies to cease funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the next decade.
Covid-19, Lab Made?
Some US officials have accused the institute of conducting risky gain-of-function experiments with bat coronaviruses, fueling suspicions that the Covid-19 pandemic originated from a Chinese laboratory; however, intelligence documents from June indicated that there is no conclusive evidence supporting the lab leak hypothesis.
Shi’s ominous warning comes at a time when the world continues to grapple with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 4.5 million people and infected more than 230 million individuals worldwide.
What If Indeed It Were To Come True
Virologist Shi Zhengli’s stark warnings, where the world is ensnared in the merciless grip of a new, highly contagious coronavirus born from the shadows of zoonotic transmission, strike with unprecedented ferocity, mercilessly infecting and claiming countless lives in its relentless path- is a nightmarish scenario.
Going by the previous experience, where every country struggled, hospitals were overwhelmed, healthcare systems crumbled, and the screams of despair reverberated through eerily deserted streets, the world plunged into a dystopian nightmare of lockdowns, isolation, and desperation as governments struggled to contain the unrelenting spread of this deadly pathogen, is not to be repeated and something to be learnt from.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought fear and mistrust, where borders were sealed, and nations turned inward to protect their own. Panic and chaos reigned supreme as basic necessities became scarce commodities, and a dark cloud of uncertainty hung over every facet of human existence.
As the death toll soared into the millions, economies collapsed, leaving millions unemployed and destitute, and many were left to wither away in isolation, their cries for help echoing in the abyss of a world undone by this relentless pandemic.
No, these were terrifying days and months, and the implications of neglecting the lessons of the past do not bore well, not in the present and not in the future!
The Last Bit, As the sinister origins of the pandemic come to light and the possibility of it returning again gains ground, we contemplate the harrowing path that humanity has been forced to traverse.
The consequences of such a malevolent act (lab leaked), if true, are immeasurable, with humanity grappling not only with the devastating health impacts of the virus but also with the profound loss of faith in our institutions and in one another.