AP: China has made state secret research on the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19
The PRC leadership tightly controls research on the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
The Chinese government is providing grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to scientists studying the origins of the virus. Officials are monitoring the findings of the research and demand that a special group under the PRC government approve them before publication, AP said.
In addition, according to the agency, “under the scrutiny of the Chinese authorities” are caves in Yunnan province (southern China), in which bats live .
AP correspondents were unable to enter several caves in Yunnan: according to the agency, they were not allowed there by the PRC state security agents who followed the journalists throughout the province.
The abandoned mine inhabited by bats, in which the RaTG13 virus was found in 2013, was especially carefully guarded – it turned out to be the closest genetic relative of SARS-CoV-2.
With the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, Chinese scientists began to study animals that were potentially the primary source of SARS-CoV-2. Including bats living in Yunnan, AP notes.
In February 2020, state media in the PRC reported that a team of scientists, which received a government grant of $ 214,000, collected hundreds of samples of bats and other animals in Yunnan for research.
The data from this study have not yet been published, AP notes. Scientists, who have no government support, told AP that it is “extremely difficult” for them to obtain permission to study animals in southern China.