The Wuhan lab at the centre of a row over where coronavirus originated from was reportedly awarded a patent for cages to hold live bats for testing.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China is said to have been granted it in January 2019, just 11 months before Covid-19 first emerged.
It reportedly filed for patents for “bat rearing cages” capable of “healthy growth and breeding under artificial conditions”.
The claims come after the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week stated a leak from the lab was “highly unlikely”, which China has been insisting too.
WHO investigators did give some credence to theories the virus may have entered China via frozen meat.
A later patent, filed last October, was for the “artificial breeding method of wild bat”, according to the Mail on Sunday.
The patent allegedly discusses cross-species transmission of SARSCoV from bat to humans and other animals.
It said: “Bats infected with the virus naturally or artificially have no obvious clinical symptoms, and the mechanism is unknown.”
The patent reportedly says the method is for breeding bats for scientific experiments.
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The lab has come under international scrutiny as it was known to have been carrying out experiments on bat coronaviruses.
It is also located just miles from where the first Covid cases were reported in December 2019.
Charles Small, an open-source intelligence consultant who found the patents, said: “They mention infecting bats with viruses artificially.
“The WIV's patented method of handling bats known to carry SARS-related coronaviruses daily at feeding time risks coronavirus spillover.”
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He said the WHO should provide a full account of the institute’s bat and bat coronavirus experiments.
The pandemic has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
Peter Daszak, a British-born investigator for the WHO, previously said researchers at the institute don’t keep the bats.
He tweeted last April: “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.”
Dominic Dwyer, a member of the WHO team trying to establish the origins of the pandemic, suggested China is frustrating the investigation process.
His team has suggested the Chinese government has refused to hand over raw data showing the first cases of Covid in Wuhan.
He claims the team was given only a summary of the information and not the raw data itself.
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