Contact a “bat woman” and a flight … on the day of the Wuhan epidemic

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Source: Dubai – Arabic.net

On December 30th, specifically at 7 pm, the director of the Wuhan Virus Institute, Shi Zengli, received a call on her personal phone indicating that Vague samples For sick blood to the institute.

The communication reported that the samples contained a new coronavirus for two hospitalized patients with atypical pneumonia.

At the time, the institute had to make sure, as the result indicated that the new disease belongs to the family of viruses that caused respiratory syndrome (SARS) that infected 8,100 people, killing nearly 800 of them between 2002 and 2003, and that it could pose a public health risk.

Wuhan Institute (France Press)
Wuhan Institute (France Press)

Conference and train

“Bat woman”, a Chinese virologist, Shi Zingli, and her colleagues call this title because of her long journey that spanned nearly 16 years in the caves of these creatures in search of details, pulled out from a conference in Shanghai when hearing the news of the samples, and jumped on the next train back To Wuhan.

“During my trip from Shanghai to Wuhan, I was thinking, ‘Did I mistake the Municipal Health Authority?’” The scientist said in an interview carried by “scientificamerican” magazine, and she continues, “I had never expected such a thing to happen in Wuhan.”

This universality has revealed in previous studies that southern and sub-tropical regions of China are at great risk of coronavirus transmission to humans from animals, especially bats, as it is a well-known repository of many viruses.

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“If the coronavirus was the culprit, could she have come from our laboratory?” Asked the scientist.

In 2004, Xi’s team from the Bat Cave took blood, saliva, and stool samples, but did not show any trace of the genetic material from coronaviruses, and this was a major blow to research, as scientists believed that coronaviruses might not like Chinese bats. However, a research group in a neighboring laboratory conducted a test on bat antibodies, and the results exceeded expectations, as samples of 3 types of bats contained antibodies against SARS, so the diagnostic group provided a valuable indication of how to search for viral genomic sequences.

The worst period in 16 years

During a train trip to Wuhan on December 30 last year, Xi and her colleagues discussed ways to start testing patients’ samples immediately, “Bat Woman” felt this was the worst period of her life in the 16 years of her trip with them.

Using a technique called polymerase chain reaction, which can detect the virus by amplifying its genetic material, the first round of tests showed that samples from 5 of 7 patients contain genetic sequences known to be present in all coronaviruses.

Inside the Wuhan Chinese Laboratory (quoting the Daily Mail)
Inside the Wuhan Chinese Laboratory (quoting the Daily Mail)

Immediately, Xi ordered her team to repeat the tests, and at the same time, sent the samples to another laboratory for the complete viral genome sequencing.

Meanwhile, she has passed on her lab records from the past few years to check for any misuse of experimental materials, especially during disposal, that would be disastrous.

We must find them before they find us.

When the results returned, the scientist breathed a sigh of relief, and none of the sequences matched the viruses her team took from the bat caves.

By January 7, the Wuhan team had determined that the new virus had already caused the disease these patients had suffered, which is a conclusion based on the results of polymerase chain reaction interaction, complete genome sequencing, antibody tests for blood samples and the ability of the virus to infect lung cells.

From inside the Wuhan Chinese Laboratory
From inside the Wuhan Chinese Laboratory

After months of the epidemic, the researchers found that the new coronavirus enters human lung cells using a receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE2), and scientists have since been examining drugs that can prevent it from doing so, as they race to develop vaccines where the team said: “The The outbreak in Wuhan was a wake-up call. ”

To that, the scientist said, what we have discovered so far is the tip of the iceberg, as there are up to 5000 strains of Corona virus awaiting discovery in bats globally.

She concluded with a confident light: “Coronary viruses transmitted by bats will cause further outbreaks of disease … We must find them before they find us.”

From Wuhan (archive - AFP)
From Wuhan (archive – AFP)

It is noteworthy that Corona has claimed the lives of at least 167 thousand and 500 people in the world since its appearance in December in China, according to a toll prepared by Agence France-Presse according to official sources until 19:00 GMT Monday evening.

Mainland China (excluding Macao and Hong Kong), where the virus first appeared in late December, had a total of 82,747 infections (12 new cases between Sunday and Monday), including 4,632 deaths, while 77084 people had recovered.





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