China’s ‘batwoman’ scientist warns another Covid outbreak ‘highly likely’
In the study, Shi Zhengli’s team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology evaluated the risk of 40 coronavirus species.
Shi Zhengli- one of China’s best-known virologists- also known as “batwoman”, warned that it is “highly likely” another coronavirus will appear in futurein a recent paper written with colleagues. The world must be prepared for another disease like Covid-19 because “if a coronavirus caused diseases to emerge before, there is a high chance it will cause future outbreaks”, she said.
In the study, Shi Zhengli’s team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology evaluated the risk of 40 coronavirus species and rated half of them as “highly risky”, South China Post reported. Of these, six are already known to have caused diseases that infected humans. There is evidence that another three caused disease or infected other animal species.
“It is almost certain that there will be future disease emergence and it is highly likely a [coronavirus] disease again,” the study, which is based on an analysis of viral traits, including population, genetic diversity, host species and any previous history of zoonosis, warned.
“Sometimes in private conversations, when talking with other public health scholars, we have noticed that intentionally or unintentionally, Chinese authorities are downplaying Covid-19, and some cities have stopped releasing infection data,” a scientist from China's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said as per the report.
Shi Zhengli and her colleagues identified important hosts of the pathogen, which include natural hosts such as bats and rodents. They also identified possible intermediate hosts like camels, civets, pigs or pangolin.
“Such studies are not regarded as groundbreaking or technically challenging and thus less valued in the field, but they are important,” the scientist said, adding, “Just like we need a mushroom textbook to avoid eating noxious mushrooms, it’s necessary to establish such tools for pathogens.”