During the World Health Organization’s month-long investigation into the origins of the pandemic in January, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the team has denied any involvement in taking part in studies of coronaviruses or other bat viruses before the pandemic.
But, a documentary video, weeks before the pandemic broke out, shows Wuhan CDC staff collecting samples of viruses from horseshoe and pipistrelle bats in caves across China’s Hubei province. The videos were released by the Chinese state media on December 10th, 2019. None of the findings from this video were ever released.
“Among all the known creatures, the bats are rich in various viruses inside. You can find most viruses responsible for human diseases like rabies, SARS, and Ebola,” Tian Junhua, a Wuhan CDC researcher, says in the video. “It is while discovering new viruses that we are most at risk of infection.”
In the last 46 years, at least four epidemics have been traced back to bats in Africa and Asia, which is why infectious disease researchers study them. In the video, Tian says such work is necessary to “lay a firm foundation for making vaccines.”
Although it does not specify when the videos were filmed, the video indicates scientists from the Wuhan CDC were doing research in bat caves before the pandemic, contrary to what they told the WHO.