China’s ‘Bat Woman’ at the center of pandemic storm speaks out

In less polarized times, Dr. Xi was a symbol of China’s scientific progress, the “bat woman” in terms of research into emerging viruses.

He led expeditions into caves to collect samples from bats and guano, to learn how viruses jump from animals to humans. In 2019, she was among 109 scientists Elected to the American Academy of Microbiology for their contributions to the field.

“He’s a stellar scientist – extremely careful, with a rigorous work ethic,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo GallDirector of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology employs approximately 300 people and is one of only two Chinese laboratories given the highest safety designation, Biosafety Level 4. Dr. Xi leads the institute’s work on emerging infectious diseases, and over the years, her group has collected more than 10,000 bat samples from around China.

Under China’s centralized approach to scientific research, the institute responds to the Communist Party, which wants scientists to serve national goals. “Science has no boundaries, but scientists have a homeland,” the country’s leader Xi Jinping said in a speech to scientists last year.

Dr. Xi, however, does not belong to the Communist Party, according to official chinese media report, which is unusual for state employees of his position. He made a career at the institute, starting as a research assistant in 1990 and working his way up the ranks.

Dr. Shi, 57, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Montpellier in France in 2000 and began studying bats in 2004 after an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, that killed more than 700 people worldwide. in 2011, He had a breakthrough when he found bats in a cave in southwestern China that contained coronaviruses that were similar to the virus that causes SARS.

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