On February 22, 2023, the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) awarded Pulitzer Center grantee Jane Qiu second place in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
Qiu was recognized in the “Trade Publications” category for her report in the MIT Technology Review, “Meet the Scientist at the Center of the Covid Lab Leak Controversy.” Qiu got exclusive access to virologist Shi Zhengli, of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The 10,000-word feature is part of Qiu’s Center-supported project COVID-19 in China: The Origins, the Response, and the Way Forward.
Shi and her staff rarely speak with the press, according to Qiu’s report. Qiu writes that Shi granted her intimate access because of her “strong science background.” The two women spoke in their native Chinese.
Origin theories swirl around the lab in Wuhan: “Shi’s work, which has earned her the nickname China’s bat woman, has been at the center of controversy. Some have suggested that her bat samples could be the source of the covid-19 virus, which scientists call SARS-CoV-2,” Qiu writes.
The controversy surrounding the lab took a toll on Shi, according to Qiu: “I’m a human being as well, you know. Have they considered what it feels like to be wrongly accused of unleashing a pandemic that has killed millions?” an exasperated Shi told Qiu. Qiu warns that “international collaborations are getting increasingly unlikely because of the allegations leveled at the Wuhan Institute.”
Established in 2005, the AHCJ awards “recognize the best reporting in print, broadcast and online media. The contest is run by journalists for journalists and is not influenced or funded by commercial or special-interest groups.”
See the list of other winners by clicking here.