Was China ready with vaccine even before pandemic? Top virologist feels so

Express News Service
BENGALURU: While opinions are building in favour of the Wuhan Laboratory-origin theory of SARS-CoV-2 virus that triggered a pandemic, killing 37.54 lakh people and infecting 17.44 crore worldwide, an eminent Indian virologist has raised the flag on the possibility of China having developed the vaccine in advance to be prepared in case of the virus outbreak or a leak — an indicator of the deadly virus being engineered in the lab.

This could have helped that country curtail the spread right from the early days. China, with the largest population in the world at 140 crore, recorded just 91,300 Covid-positive cases and 4,636 deaths since December 2019. It is ranked 98 on the list of countries in the order of cases recorded, he said.

The virologist, Dr T Jacob John, former professor & head of department of Clinical Virology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “There are some mysteries about the Chinese episode (the suspected leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology). China’s Covid-19 pandemic was unique in the world. That means they are hiding something… or they are different…or China had prepared for this in advance. Everything is not what meets the eye.”

He cited the example of a young Chinese scientist applying for a licence for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine “as early as February 24, 2020”, just two months after the pandemic broke out. “It is far too early to work on a vaccine in just two months. They must have started at least a year earlier,” said Dr John.

“That young man (the scientist) is dead. There are too many loose ends. China seems to be covering up something, just like any criminal would cover up.”

Dr T Jacob John said, “There is smoking gun evidence in molecular biology that point to the possibility that it is a lab-manipulated virus.”

​Interestingly, as reported by a section of the media, Indian biologists from Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, had reportedly detected four gene insertions in SARS-CoV-2 virus’ spike protein which is its weapon to attach to the human cells and gain entry into the body. This was as early as January 2020. However, the study which was not peer reviewed was withdrawn on February 2 last year.

Meanwhile, the focus has turned on a report by US government’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, which conducted a study in May 2020, stating that the hypothesis of a virus leak from the Wuhan laboratory was plausible and needs to be investigated thoroughly.