Forensic examination of Wuhan Institute of Virology COVID-19 patient specimens from December 2019 reveals extensive laboratory contamination

Physician-Scientist Steven Quay and a group of international scientists have published a paper, available here, regarding the contamination of Covid-19 patient samples at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) with a variety of unexpected substances, including an undisclosed H7N9 influenza vaccine and the BSL-4 pathogen Nipah. 

The paper makes for a fascinating read, the highlights of which are: 

  • Five patient specimens were sequenced by the WIV in December 2019 and were part of an early report on SARS-CoV-2 published by Dr. Zhengli Shi and colleagues (Nature 579, 270–273 (2020). This paper has been viewed over one million times, making it one of the most highly read papers on the pandemic virus.
  • The most abundant contaminant is an undisclosed H7N9 influenza vaccine, which in one specimen is over six-times as abundant as SARS-CoV-2.
  • The Nipah virus gene sequences were found in infectious cloning vectors of the type used for genetic manipulation.
  • Nineteen other contaminants, including Japanese Encephalitis virus, HIV, human T-cell leukemia virus, and hepatitis delta virus were found.

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