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Wuhan lab at centre of Covid storm 'designed cages to breed bats for virus experiments'

 The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The Wuhan lab at the centre of a storm over the origins of Covid-19 was awarded a patent for cages to hold live bats for testing just months before the virus started spreading, it was reported last night.

Last week the World Health Organisation said that a leak from the institute was 'highly unlikely', however did give some credence to theories the virus may have entered China via frozen meat.

That narrative is one being pushed by the Chinese government.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has allegedly been found to have filed patents for "bat rearing cages" and "artificial breeding" systems less than 12 months before the coronavirus first emerged in December 2019.

 Covid-19 is thought to have originated in bats - but exactly how the virus began is still a subject of investigation (Image: Daniel Whitby / SWNS.COM)

WIV has been subject to international scrutiny as it was known to have been carrying out experiments on bat coronaviruses - and is located just miles from Covid's ground zero.

The Mail on Sunday reports the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) filed an application in June 2018 to patent ‘bat rearing cages’ which would be ‘capable of healthy growth and breeding under artificial conditions’.

The patent was reportedly granted in January 2019 – 11 months before Beijing reported that the first cases of the virus in the city had broken out just a few miles from the institute.

A separate patent, filed by the institute on October 16, 2020, relates to the ‘artificial breeding method of wild bat’, it was reported.

The patent reportedly discusses cross- species transmission of SARS- CoV from bat to humans and other animals, saying: ‘Bats infected with the virus naturally or artificially have no obvious clinical symptoms, and the mechanism is unknown’.

 A worker standing next to a cage with mice (R) inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The new revelations about the bat cages raises more questions about the work the Chinese scientists - lead by Dr Shi Zhengli, known as Batwoman - were doing in the months leading up to the pandemic.

It had previously been denied that WIV was keeping any live bats on site - but an online profile of the lab reportedly claimed it has capacity to keep 12 bat cages.

WHO investigator Peter Daszak, who has longstanding links with WIV, had previously claimed no live bats were being kept by the lab.

Last April, he said: "All bats are released back to their cave site after sampling. It’s a conservation measure and is much safer in terms of disease spread than killing them or trying to keep them in a lab."

 The deadly virus first emerged in China last year (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

In December, he appeared to repeat the claim by stating labs he had worked with "DO NOT have live or dead bats in them. There is no evidence anywhere that this happened".

WHO investigator Dominic Dwyer has claimed the Communist Party authorities refused to hand over raw data about some of the first suspected Covid cases.

He said: "Why that doesn't happen, I couldn't comment. Whether it's political or time or it's difficult .

"But whether there are any other reasons why the data isn't available, I don't know. One would only speculate."

The WHO mission was tightly controlled and stage managed by China - and even saw the scientists visit a propaganda museum celebrating Wuhan's fight against Covid.

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