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A Chinese scientist shared the COVID-19 virus sequence 14 days prior to China's official release of the data to the public.
Science & Health

A Chinese scientist shared the COVID-19 virus sequence 14 days prior to China’s official release of the data to the public.

According to documents released by a U.S. congressional committee on Wednesday, a Chinese researcher uploaded the genome sequence of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 to a U.S. government database two weeks prior to the Chinese government’s public sharing of the virus’ sequence.

The National Institutes of Health in the United States stated, in reaction to an investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that Chinese virologist Lili Ren submitted the sequence on December 28, 2019. However, the data was found to be incomplete and did not contain the necessary information needed for publication.

A letter from the National Institutes of Health to the committee stated that any information sent to GenBank, a database of publicly accessible DNA sequences, must go through a thorough evaluation process before being released. This is to ensure that the data meets the necessary standards for researchers to utilize “reliable and trustworthy” information.

The National Institutes of Health told Ren to send in the update that was requested, with a warning that failure to provide the data by January 14, 2020 would result in the rejection and deletion of the sequence submission.

Ren did not reply to the NIH’s request, resulting in the removal of the data on January 16, 2020.

The National Institutes of Health announced on January 12, 2020 that another group had submitted a sequence for SARS-CoV-2 that was “almost identical” and was subsequently published and accessible to the general public.

According to researchers, the additional two weeks could have provided international health organizations with a head start in understanding the transmission of the disease and potential vaccines.

The recent finding emphasizes the unreliability of information from the CCP and raises doubts about the validity of scientific theories based on that data, according to Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Brett Guthrie, and Morgan Griffith in a statement.