The grounds for disputing the lab-leak theory as mere conspiracy grew even shakier amid a recent video that proves the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had bats in its premises. 

The footage released by Sky News and the Australian on Sunday, June 13, vividly shows researchers purportedly from WIV were nurturing live bats in caves that belong to the facility. 

It was originally produced and released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences four years ago, two years before the alleged emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, which was boasting the facility’s then-new biosafety level four laboratory. 

The video shows that researchers from the Wuhan lab were catching and feeding the mammals while they sported protective clothing. This includes a point when a bat was dangling upside down from one employee’s hat worn on his head. 

One Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher feeding a bat with worm, from the video uploaded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in May 2017 (June 13, 2021/Sky News Australia/Screenshot via TheBL/YouTube)

The video conveys images of hundreds of mice in cages, which allegedly were used by the researchers at the WIV for conducting gain-of-function experiments.

“We know that the WIV was using humanized mice for experiments to see which coronaviruses could infect humans,” said host Sharri Markson on Sky News. “In some experiments, they use the humanized mice to make viruses that couldn’t previously infect humans do exactly that.”

“These experiments are called gain-of-function, aimed to make viruses more infectious and more violent to try to predict which may cause the pandemic,” Markson explained.

A bat hanging from one of the WIV researcher’s hat, from the video uploaded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in May 2017 (June 13, 2021/Sky News Australia/Screenshot via TheBL/YouTube)

The video content contradicts a claim made in December last year by the head of a US taxpayer-funded collaborator with the facility EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak, who firmly stated that the Wuhan lab was not keeping live bats in its facility. 

“Important error in this piece. No BATS were ‘sent to Wuhan lab for genetic analyses of viruses collected in the field.’ That’s not how this science works,” wrote Daszak in the deleted Tweet. He was also a virologist working for WHO-China. “We collect bat samples, send them to the lab. We RELEASE bats where we catch them!”

This Tweet was responded with a claim saying that “Western scientists” were assuming “the same practices and standard operating protocols that they do,” by Simon Boyi Chen who was in the fellowship program in molecular genetic pathology at Stanford Health Care.

The conversation went on with Daszak affirming he had worked for the WIV for more than a decade to emphasize the validity of his words, dubbing the lab-leak accusations “conspiracy theory,” denying the speculated origin of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, the SARS-CoV-2.

“This is a widely circulated conspiracy theory. This piece describes work I’m the lead on & labs I’ve collaborated with for 15 years. They DO NOT have live or dead bats in them. There is no evidence anywhere that this happened.”

According to the Washington Examiner, months after his confident assertions, Daszak then turned course and said the WIV might try to host bat colonies for its research, hinting that it was a common practice in international labs on bats in a set of Tweets.

“You’re right, labs in U.S. & around world are trying to keep bats to test viral immune responses etc. None are successfully doing this at scale like lab mice & animals are always screened virus-free before expts, so even if WIV were trying this, it’s prob irrelevant for origins…” he said in a Tweet on June 1. 

“I also think it’s in the WHO report (annexes) that they were working w/ animals in WIV at BSL-4, just like U.S. labs.”

The 2017 footage was first tracked down by an online group named “DRASTIC” or the Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19.