TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A senior researcher at the Washington-based think tank the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has said the mouse bite transmission that occurred in Taiwan last week lends greater credibility to the theory that the coronavirus originally leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) concluded on Saturday (Dec. 11) that an assistant researcher had tested positive for the Delta variant of COVID after being bitten twice by mice in a high safety laboratory.
Taiwan’s health officials have not ruled out that cross-infection occurred when the rodent bit the researcher. If proven true, this could reinforce the Wuhan lab leak theory, per think tank experts.
“If the lab worker is confirmed to have been infected at her workplace, then this will add credibility to the lab leak theory,” Yanzhong Huang (黃嚴忠), a Chinese public health expert at CFR told the Times.
“This case comes as we have reached an impasse on the origins probe for COVID-19, with no progress on establishing whether the outbreak was the result of a natural spillover from animals or a lab leak,” he added.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — the scene of the alleged initial outbreak — has two locations in the heart of Hubei’s provincial capital, one of which is across the bridge from the Huanan Seafood Market where many of the early cases were reported by the government. It is known that a team of scientists led by Shi Zhengli (石正丽) — the famed coronavirus expert also known as China’s “bat woman” — used rodents to test the impact of enhanced bat viruses through “gain of function” research.
Investigations by Western governments have concluded that the theory is entirely plausible, despite China’s protestations that such suggestions are part of a grand conspiracy. With the exception of a World Health Organization team that was granted minimal access, China has blocked international investigators from entering its borders to investigate the origin site.