- Research into the origins of Covid-19 is being complicated by tight restrictions
- An AP investigation spoke to scientists who believe China is politicizing research
- Publication of studies and access to samples all largely controlled by the state
- A mine shaft where the closest relative to Covid-19 was found in 2012 is practically off-limits to journalists and scientists, the investigation found
- Pinpointing the source of Covid-19 could help to prevent future pandemics
[FD: This story has not been verified but published due to its AP source.]
Deep in the lush mountain valleys of southern China lies the entrance to a mine shaft that once harboured bats with the closest known relative of the Covid-19 virus.
The area is of intense scientific interest because it may hold clues to the origins of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1.7million people worldwide. Yet for scientists and journalists, it has become a black hole of no information because of political sensitivity and secrecy.
A bat research team visiting recently managed to take samples but had them confiscated, two people familiar with the matter said. Specialists in coronaviruses have been ordered not to speak to the press. And a team of Associated Press journalists was tailed by plainclothes police in multiple cars who blocked access to roads and sites in late November.