Virologist Shi Zhengli, from Wuhan – where the Covid-19 outbreak originated – made the discovery that the illness was similar to Sars – a respiratory disease that sparked an epidemic after emerging from China in 2002. Within days she carried out tests and confirmed that the killer bug was 96 percent identical to a virus found in horseshoe bats.
But journalist Gao Yu said Shi told him she was ordered not to reveal any information about her findings, which are crucial in developing a vaccine.
He said: “We learned later her institute finished gene-sequencing and related tests as early as January 2 but was muzzled.”
Dr Shi became known as China’s Bat Woman after years of virus-hunting expeditions led to a series of important discoveries.
In an online lecture last month, Dr Shi said her team found the virus could infect people on January 14 – six days before it was revealed by China.
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