TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Researchers have uncovered accounts from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) scientists and applications for patents for bat breeding that refute World Health Organization (WHO) inspector Peter Daszak's claims that the lab does not house live bats captured in the wild.
An international network of researchers and scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic who call themselves DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19) have found evidence from Chinese media reports that in fact the WIV scientists captured bats alive and kept them inside the lab. The lab has also filed two patents for cages to be used in bat breeding and one for lab accidents just before the start of the pandemic.
British zoologist and the president of EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak is the only individual to be part of both the WHO and The Lancet teams investigating the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. However, he has long-term professional and financial ties with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) spanning two decades and valued in the millions of dollars, which represents a conflict of interest.
On Dec. 10 of last year, the Independent published an article alleging that the U.S. National Institutes of Health provided US$3.7 million in funding to the WIV to study bats carrying viruses similar to SARS in Yunnan Province. The article reported that WIV scientists captured the bats and sent them to the Wuhan lab for analysis.
That same day, Daszak took umbrage with the claim that the bats had been captured and transported to the WIV and posted a tweet, in which he wrote "No BATS were 'sent to Wuhan lab for genetic analyses of viruses collected in the field.'" He then added, "That's not how this science works. We collect bat samples, send them to the lab. We RELEASE bats where we catch them!"
Daszak then deleted the tweet and its accompanying thread. However, its contents can still be seen on the Internet Archive.
Later that same day, Daszak added one final tweet that remains to this day, in which he admitted to being "the lead" on work with bats carrying coronaviruses at the WIV and that he has worked with the organization for 15 years. He then claimed that the labs at the WIV "DO NOT have live or dead bats in them. There is no evidence anywhere that this happened."
However, the team at DRASTIC uncovered comments made at a conference in 2017 by the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at WIV, Shi Zhengli (石正麗) — also known as "Bat Woman" — claiming that she had experimented on live bats with Nipah. The Nipah virus is a highly infectious disease carried by bats that can easily be transmitted to other animals and humans and have a high mortality rate.
On page 12 of a document titled "Second China-U.S. Workshop on the Challenges of Emerging Infections, Laboratory Safety and Global Health Security," which took place from May 17-19, 2017, in Wuhan, Shi is cited as saying that some SARS-like coronaviruses (SL CoVs) have the potential for interspecies transmission to other animals and humans.
When asked by an audience member if a bat could be cleared of this virus, Shi responded that she had tried this with the Nipah virus in bats. She added that the bats could produce antibodies and be clear within seven days.
She said that in nature, they found that bats produce antibodies to some viruses but not all and that some SL CoV can exist in bats for several months. The fact that specific bats were being monitored for days and even months for the presence of antibodies indicates that they were being kept in the lab.
In an article posted on Sixth Tone in May of 2018, the news site interviewed WIV scientist Luo Dongsheng, who is part of a working group at the lab that sequences coronaviruses and enters the data into a genetic database. Luo describes the process of exploring Taiyi Cave in Xianning, Hubei Province, and collecting horseshoe bat samples and the bats themselves.
(Sixth Tone screenshot)
At the end of the article, it states by 8:30 p.m. on an evening that spring, Luo's team had "collected a full rack of swabs and bagged a dozen live bats for further testing back at the lab."
In an archived article from ScienceNet.cn which has since been scrubbed from the internet, WIV scientist Zhang Huajun praised Shi for helping to feed the bats while the interns were out for the Lunar New Year holiday:
"The reasearch team captured a few bats from the wild to be used as experiemental animals. They need to be fed every day. This Spring Festival, the students went home for a holiday, and Teacher Shi took on the task of raising bats."
In an archived view of the WIV introduction page, it states that the institute had "3 sets of barrier facilities" covering 1,216 square meters. It then itemized the cages it houses for various types of lab animals, including "126 cages for Japanese white rabbits, 340 cages for SD and Wistar rats, 3268 cages for inbred strains, closed groups, mutant strains and genetically engineered mice, 12 cages for ferrets, 12 cages for bats, 2 species of cotton bollworm and beet armyworm, totaling 52 subspecies."
In addition, an open-source intelligence consultant discovered that the WIV has filed at least two patents that appear to point to a bat breeding program in the lab. The first patent was filed in June of 2018 and was called "A kind of carnivorism bat rearing cage." The patent was granted in April of 2019.
Bat cage patent. (patents.google.com image)
The description of the cage includes partitions, feed openings, and drinking tubes. The description concludes that the device is intended to enable the bats to be "capable of healthy growth and breeding" under artificial conditions.
The second patent describes an artificial breeding method of feeding insectivorous bats with predatory insects, ensuring their safe "overwintering," and ensuring a "high breeding rate and survival rate." A third patent, filed in November of 2019, just one month before the first COVID-19 cases in Wuhan were announced, is an instrument designed to quickly stop the bleeding on a finger if it had been injured while working pathogenic viruses in a biosafety lab.
Patent to quickly halt bleeding on finger. (patents.google.com image)