Hamburg (dpa) – Since the University of Hamburg published the research of the nanoscientist Professor Roland Weisinger via the press service, who reported that the origin of the Corona virus could be found in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, it appears that their main players are in shock.
The explanations seem so delicate and the scientific methods questionable that no one can comment on them or even play the executioner.
Whether it is the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) with the eminent virologist Marlene Addo, the Hamburg Bernard Nucht Institute with the equally eminent virologist Jonas Schmidt Chanasset, or the Academic Senate and University Council – they rejected it or not. There is no interaction whatsoever. Finally, in his research report, Wiesendanger concluded in a somewhat unconventional way that both the number and quality of evidence of a laboratory accident at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan indicated the cause of the epidemic. His sources include YouTube videos, which have sparked a wave of outrage online.
University president Prof. Dieter Lindzen declined to comment. According to his statement, Wiesendanger encouraged publication. “He encouraged me, in my role as a scientist, to bring these things up in public and not just put them up for discussion in the scientific community,” said Wessinger of the German Press Agency. Now the press service only says: “The university administration and the press service of the University of Hamburg do not exercise any control over research topics and the results of their scholars.”
Wiesendanger himself does not defy criticism. “I was fully aware of what was to come.” The move to the wary class from the Hamburg Science Authority doesn’t seem to impress him either. “Freedom of knowledge is a constant commodity. However, for all forms of scientific research, if the data are unclear or uncertain, it is advisable to exercise caution in the evaluation,” said science spokeswoman Katarina Fbank (Greens), she explained.
On the other hand, Wiesendanger said: “It is quite evident that we will soon conduct the study in many other languages.” The problem should be raised among the residents of many countries. “This is not a study of professional scientific publications.” Wiesendanger uploaded his study to “Search Portal”, a social network for researchers. It has not yet appeared in scientific journals. “This scientific criticism and method is still totally absent in this case,” says Marcus Vikkopf, director of the Science in Dialogue initiative, which deals with the development and quality of scientific communication.
Vykopf explained that good public relations scientific guidelines do not encourage active journalism about studies that have not been evaluated externally – and also, especially in times of a pandemic, when first scientific findings are absorbed with passion by the public. Vikov stressed that news agencies should pay more attention to the implications of their posts and the scope of their interpretation. “If a topic is expected to attract a lot of attention and could influence public debate, it is the job of news agencies to critically ask scholars when in doubt.”
In its statement, the Hamburg Science Authority also referred to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has only recently been investigating the outbreak in Wuhan. However, it remains unclear when their final report will be submitted. At the end of the visit, co-expert Peter bin Mubarak had already described that it was unlikely that the virus had escaped from the Chinese laboratory.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) collects and processes virus samples, and is also researching bat coronavirus. Therefore, one theory to test regarding its origin is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated there on purpose or accidentally and then escaped. An infection with the new virus was first detected in Wuhan at the beginning of December 2019.
Research into the origin of the pathogen is politically sensitive. China fears it will be condemned as the cause of the pandemic – if the virus has already escaped from the laboratory, compensation claims could be filed worldwide. As for Wiesendanger, he is totally right.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210219-99-514439 / 2