China nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the nation's top science award amid mounting suspicions that COVID was made and leaked from its labs

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Wuhan Institute of Virology
Security personnel stood guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus made a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
  • China last week nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for a top science award in the country.

  • The lab's head, Shi Zhengli, dubbed as China's "Batwoman," separately received an honorable mention from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

  • The nominations came after China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the lab deserved a Nobel Prize.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

China has nominated the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the nation's top science award, even as suspicions continue to swirl around whether or not COVID originated in its labs.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences on June 18 released the list of nominees for the "Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize," which included the Wuhan Institute of Virology, per a report from local media outlet Sina News. The lab was nominated for its "comprehensive and systematic research on the COVID-19 virus."

Shi Zhengli, the head of the Wuhan lab dubbed as China's "Batwoman," got an honorable mention as well for her work on "identifying the origin of COVID-19, and creating a model to isolate genes from the virus."

The nomination came just a day after China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the lab deserved to win a Nobel Prize for their COVID research instead of facing backlash.

"The genome sequence of COVID-19 was first identified by Chinese scientists, but that does not mean Wuhan is the source of the coronavirus, nor can it be inferred that the coronavirus was made by Chinese scientists," Zhao said last week at a press conference.

Shi also denied in an interview with The New York Times published on June 14 that COVID originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

"How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?" Shi said during the interview with The Times.

"I don't know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist," Shi added.

Despite these repeated denials from China, there is still suspicion that COVID was leaked from the Wuhan lab, particularly after a Wall Street Journal report last month revealed that three staff members at the lab fell ill more than a month before experts identified and reported the first cases of COVID in the area.

President Joe Biden has since called for a 90-day investigation into the lab leak theory.

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