Scientists Allegedly Discovered New Viruses in Chinese Labs

The viruses were found in agricultural research facilities in Wuhan and Fuzhou.
Fabienne Lang
The photo credit line may appear like thisRost-9D/iStock

A team of scientists has allegedly discovered evidence of new viruses — some of which are coronaviruses — found in agricultural sequencing datasets in labs in the cities of Wuhan and Fuzhou in China. 

The datasets came from crops like rice and cotton, which were collected between 2017 and 2020, and showed the entire genetic sequencing of new viruses that appear to be related to human diseases like SARS and MERS.

It should be pointed out that this discovery has yet to be peer-reviewed by experts in the field, with the team sharing its findings on the preprint server arXiv on Sunday, April 4. 

In order to confirm the researchers' findings, further research has to first be carried out — so there's no need to worry, at least for now.

What exactly did the team find?

Its "unexpected discovery," as the team calls its findings, showed the presence of dangerous human diseases in agricultural research facilities based in Wuhan and Fuzhou. This means that the facilities' safety protocols could be called into question, especially if viruses were accidentally released from them as a result of poor safety procedures. 

For instance, a cotton dataset was sequenced by the Huazhong Agricultural University in 2017, and a rice dataset was sequenced by the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in 2017, both of which were allegedly found to host novel viruses. 

It's not great news, but as previously mentioned, it's to be taken with a pinch of salt until the study is verified. 

Figuring out how viruses spread across from labs or animals over to humans has had researchers scratching their heads for decades. Currently, researchers are searching high and low to figure out how the coronavirus spread across to humans, with a number of theories echoing around the world.

Starting work in December 2020, 10 experts in virology, public health, and animals set off on a mission to get to the source of the COVID-19 issue. From bats and pangolins to lab-grown viruses, there's been a lot of speculation. Let's just hope there's no new outbreak of different coronaviruses, or any other virus to wreak havoc once again. 


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