Liberty Journal

Bat virus was shipped to Wuhan laboratory before Covid outbreak, emails show

No, Really? Wuhan scientists were studying viral samples of high-risk bat species living in Laos – the country where the closest relative to Covid-19 has been found, leaked documents show.

Wuhan scientists were studying viral samples of high-risk bat species living in Laos – the country where the closest relative to Covid-19 has been found, leaked documents show. 

In September, researchers discovered a viral strain called Banal-52 in Laos, which shares 96.8 per cent of its genome with Sars-CoV-2 – boosting claims that the pandemic was caused by a natural spillover event, rather than a laboratory leak.

However, it remained unclear how a bat-borne virus from Laos could have ended up sparking an outbreak in Wuhan, more than 1,000 miles away.

Now, leaked emails between EcoHealth Alliance and US government funders show viral samples were being collected from bats in Laos and sent back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for study.

The emails, uncovered in a Freedom of Information Request by the US-based White Coat Waste Project, suggest that viral DNA from “bats and other high-risk species” were sent to Wuhan between June 2017 to May 2019.

Before Banal-52 was found, the closest relative to Covid-19 was discovered in cave bats in Yunnan, China, where EcoHealth Alliance had also been looking for viruses and sending samples back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

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