Nearly two years before coronavirus became a household word, a National Institute of Health lab in Montana was conducting experiments with bats that focused on the spread of the virus.
The 2018 research was funded by the “Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and a research grant from NIH AID,” according to a report on the study available through the National Library of Medicine.
At the time, Dr. Anthony Fauci was the director of NIAID, a post he held from 1984 until his retirement in 2022.
The research was conducted at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, which NIAID calls a “premier NIH facility for biomedical research.”
The experiment sought to determine whether the WIV1-coronavirus could infect and replicate in a group of 12 Egyptian fruit bats.
“They performed exams on the animals daily and measured things like body weight and temperature,” the Daily Mail reported. “Scientists also took samples from the bats’ noses and throats.
“On days three, seven and 28, four of the bats were euthanized and their heart, liver, kidney, spleen, bladder, reproductive organs, eyes and brain were collected for analysis. Scientists also analyzed white blood cell count and antibodies.”
The report on the experiment said that the virus was “unable to cause a robust infection” in the bats, later concluding that the spread of the virus could be specific to some bat species but not others.
The report also noted that existing research “suggests that a substantial portion of the SARS-like viruses circulating in bats cannot infect humans directly.”
COVID-19 was first reported in China in late 2019. Extensive debate has since raged whether the virus spread to humans through some as-yet-undiscovered animal pathway or was leaked from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak was first noticed.
Fauci has scoffed at the lab-leak theory. He has also insisted that no “gain of function” research was approved on his watch. Such research is designed to increase the power of a virus to do harm to its host.
The bats for the 2018 project were obtained from the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont, Maryland, the report said. The zoo is not far from the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Anthony Bellotti, the president and founder of White Coat Waste, denounced the project in a statement.
“Our investigation has uncovered the real-life horror story of how a shady roadside zoo whose curator was an NIH animal experimenter shipped off bats to a deadly government virus lab overseen by Dr. Fauci to be infected with a coronavirus obtained directly from the Wuhan lab that experts believe caused Covid,” he said, according to the Post Millennial.