$6.5 Million Pentagon Program for Genetic Studies of Bats and Coronavirus in West Asia

Arms Watch: Furthermore, in 2017 the Pentagon launched a $6.5 million program in cooperation with the Lugar Center involving genetic studies on coronaviruses in 5,000 bats collected in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Jordan.

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) itself launched the $6.5 million project on bats and coronaviruses in Western Asia with the Lugar Center being the local laboratory for this genetic research. The duration of the program is 5 years and has been implemented by the non-profit US organisation Eco Health Alliance.

The project’s objectives are: 1. Capture and non-lethally sample 5,000 bats in 5-year period (2017-2022) 2. Collect 20,000 samples (i.e. oral, rectal swabs and/or feces, and blood) and screen for CoVs using consensus PCR at regional labs in Georgia and Jordan.

According to the project presentation, Eco Health Alliance already sampled 270 bats of 9 species in three Western Asian countries: 90 individual bats in Turkey (Aug 2018), Georgia (Sept 2018), and Jordan (Oct 2018).

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