WUHAN lab scientists attempted to get the coronavirus renamed so the deadly bug could be distanced from China, bombshell emails reveal.
Correspondence obtained through freedom of information requests show further evidence of how the Communist Party attempted to control the narrative during the early days of the pandemic.
Emails uncovered by US Right to Know (USRTK) - a public health research non-profit organisation - expose how Wuhan lab chief Dr Shi Zhengli helped spearhead an effort to alter the virus's scientific name "SARS-CoV-2".
The messages obtained by USRTK show that the scientists argued the name of the virus was a "matter of importance to the Chinese people" as it became a political football.
Dr Shi - known as "Bat Woman" - and the other Chinese researchers argued the name was "truly misleading" as they felt it linked the virus to 2003 outbreak of SARS in China.
Chinese scientists also raised fears that the virus might become known as the "Wuhan coronavirus" or "Wuhan pneumonia" as they battled to save face.