A lab worker at Taiwan’s leading research institute tested positive for COVID-19 after a mouse that had been infected with the virus bit her

mouse lab study
A lab mouse.

  • A double-vaccinated woman has caught COVID-19 after a lab mouse bit her, say reports.
  • Taiwan has not seen any community cases of the virus in over a month.
  • The technician took trains and buses, shopped, and dined out before testing positive despite feeling sick.

A laboratory worker in Taiwan has caught COVID-19 after being bitten by an infected mouse, according to reports.

Taiwan’s health officials are still to establish, without doubt, that she caught the virus as a direct result of the rodent bite, The Guardian reported. Taiwan has not seen any community transmission of COVID-19 for over a month. 

“We believe the possibility of infection from the workplace is higher because we have zero confirmed infections in the community,” the health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said, per The Guardian.

As part of experiments at Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s leading research institute in Taipei, the rodent was infected with the virus. After being bitten twice by an infected mouse, the double-vaccinated woman tested positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19 on Thursday. 

Despite feeling sick, the woman traveled by trains and buses, went shopping, and dined out for several days before testing positive, said The Times.

This case has given traction to speculation that the pandemic could have been caused by a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, a theory that The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says is a plausible explanation for the pandemic outbreak.

Yanzhong Huang, a Chinese public health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said that should it be confirmed that the Taiwanese researcher did catch COVID-19 due to the rodent bite, then “this will add credibility to the lab leak theory.”

“This case comes as we have reached an impasse on the origins probe for COVID-19, with no progress on establishing whether the outbreak was the result of a natural spillover from animals or a lab leak,” he told The Times.

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