The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) maintains a number of databases of samples and viral sequences.

DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19) area team of sem-anonymous, (self-described) "Twitter detectives" who research and write papers about the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

In February 2021, Billy Bostickson and Gilles Demaneuf from DRASTIC published An investigation into the WIV databases that were taken offline, claiming that the batvirus database (which included bat and rodent virus samples) was made inaccessible to external access on 12th Sept 2019

  • In Dec 2020, Pr. Shi Zhengli explained in a BBC interview that access to the DB was stopped to prevent cyber security attacks.

  • On the 26th January 2021, Pr.Shi Zhengli confirmed again that the database has been taken offline ‘during Covid-19 pandemic’ in an email answer to Tommy Cleary.

  • On the 10th March 2021, during a Chatham House interview, Peter Daszak repeated the exact reason given by Shi Zhengli in her email to Tommy Cleary above.

  • These three statements do not make any sense since the main database was taken offline on the 12 Sep 2019, 3 months at least before the official start of the pandemic. So either the reason given for taking the database off is not correct (which raises more questions), or the statement points at an outbreak in Sep 2019.

Did the "batvirus" dabatase of the WIV get taken permanently off-line on September 12th 2019? Did Shi Zhengli from the WIV claim that it went down during the pandemic because of cyberattacks?

  • 1
    There is no contradiction here. The database might've been taken down due to cyberattacks prior to the pandemic, and also been down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most likely sequence of events is that it was taken down when it was noticed that it was insecure, and that work to secure or replace it was delayed by the pandemic.
    – antlersoft
    Jun 20 at 16:59
  • @antlersoft : Computers that are connected to the internet are generally insecure if you have information that's of high interest to nationstates. If the NSA/CIA did their job properly there was some moment in time where hacking the WIV to find out what's going on over there was what they are supposed to do. Them having information about the amount of cellphone traffic within the the WIV in october is the first information we know they had about their activities. (The EcoHealth alliance was asked to explain the reduced cellphone traffic)
    – Christian
    Jun 21 at 8:45
  • @Christian: That last comment contains a lot of speculation.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 21 at 20:30
  • 1) This paper wasn't "published" anywhere. It's tagged as "preprint." 2) Researchgate is pretty much a crap site and not reliable. 3) There is no contradiction, according to this preprint - " It was online intermittently after this date from mid-December 2019, and occasionally until February 2020, but was not accessed from outside of the WIV after 12 September 2019" - wouldn't Zengli have password and within-WIV access to the database, meaning, as far as that person is concerned, it was not offline? Jun 22 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Oddthinking : What do you think is speculation? It's generally accepted that computers without airgap aren't secure against nation state attackers. The idea that it's the job of NSA/CIA to gather intelligence that's important for US interests in time of crisis? What do you think is their job about?
    – Christian
    Jun 22 at 18:23

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