China's 'batwoman' behind lab that 'leaked Covid' warns more deadly variants on way amid ‘doomsday’ mutation fears
CHINA'S "batwoman" has warned further deadly Covid variants are set to sweep across the world amid fears a catastrophic "doomsday" mutation could emerge.
Virologist Shi Zhengli – who slammed claims that the bug leaked from her Wuhan lab as "baseless" – says spiralling case numbers across the globe has allowed coronavirus more chances to mutate.
The researcher – known as "batwoman" for her work and studies into the origin of novel coronaviruses – implored vaccine hesistaters to get jabbed as she warned Covid will continue to mutate and that the world must learn to live with the bug.
Dr Zhengli told People's Daily: "As the number of infected cases has just become too big, this allowed the novel coronavirus more opportunities to mutate and select.
"New variants will continue to emerge."
The virologist, who is head of the centre for emerging infectious diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has hit back at claims Covid leaked from the lab, accusing the world of "trying to pour filth" on her.
Circumstantial evidence linking the virus' origins to the site – which was probing bat coronaviruses – continues to mount, with it suggested Covid may have escaped by a researcher getting infected, improperly disposed of waste, or potential breaches in the security at the lab.
China denies the lab leak and all wrongdoing over its handling of the initial Covid outbreak in December 2019.
But Dr Zhengli's warning of further deadly variants omes after experts claimed Covid could eventually mutate into an "ultimate" variant 600 times more infectious than the original from Wuhan.
The study, which plotted future outcomes for the virus, flagged a worrying – although rare – possibility it could truly outfox vaccines and lockdown attempts.
A lab in Israel found there is a way Covid could spread much faster, if the right mutation happened.
Meanwhile, it is feared a new Covid variant worse than the Delta and Lambda strains may emerge in the US.
As hospitals in Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri reach their capacity while cases in Florida surge, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm warned further mutations may be worse.
"The next variant could be Delta on steroids," he told Newsweek.
It comes after authorities in Wuhan this week ordered all 11 million residents to be tested after new cases emerged for the first time in a year.
The outbreak has sparked panic buying across the city with locals raiding supermarket shelves in the fear of being forced back into lockdown.
On Tuesday, the national health commission reported eight new cases in Wuhan – three of which were symptomatic and five asymptomatic.
The city's health official Li Tao confirmed officials were “swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing” of all of the city's 11 million residents.
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