China's 'Bat woman' says future pandemics likely unless measures are taken

'These viruses exist in nature, whether we admit it or not. If we don't study, there will be possibly another outbreak, and we wouldn't know them.'

A coronavirus testing facility in Wuhan, China. (photo credit: BGI)
A coronavirus testing facility in Wuhan, China.
(photo credit: BGI)
Chinese virologist, Shi Zhengli, known as China's "Bat Woman", who has studied the coronavirus in bats, has called for international cooperation in fighting future pandemics, Bloomberg reported.
In an interview to the Chinese TV station CGTN, Zhengli explained that in order to combat future pandemics, resources must be put into studying viruses in wild animals before they are able to spread to humans. 
“If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings,” Zhengli told CGTN. “If we don’t study them there will possibly be another outbreak.”

She also spoke in the interview of the need to make a global cooperation in order to fully embrace such a policy, as a small team such as the one she works in does not have the resources in order to handle such a monumental task.
Zhengli ended the interview by saying that her research is important because viruses similar to the coronavirus, exist in nature, and it would be much better to be able to study them and prepare.
"These viruses exist in nature, whether we admit it or not" She said, "if we don't study, there will be possibly another outbreak, and we wouldn't know them" 
Bats are a major source of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Despite hosting a wide variety of different pathogens, bats possess very strong immune systems, which allows them to carry diseases without being infected themselves. As they also are known for traveling great distances, they are capable of spreading a wide variety of different viruses. This includes coronaviruses such as COVID-19, SARS and MERS, as well as filoviruses like Ebola.
The Wuhan Institute for Virology has admitted  to having three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, though the lab insists that none are the source of the current coronavirus pandemic, AFP reported.
The lab's director, Wang Yanyi, said in an interview aired Saturday that the lab has “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats” since 2004, AFP reported.


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