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The coronavirus may have leaked from a laboratory

In an emergency meeting held last Friday in Beijing, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain coronavirus and to establish a system to prevent similar epidemics in the future.

A national biosecurity risk control system must be put in place “to protect people’s health,” Xi said, because laboratory safety is a “national security” issue.

Xi actually did not admit that the now devastating coronavirus large areas of China have fled one of the country’s biological research labs. But the following day, evidence emerged suggesting that this is exactly what happened, since the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology has released a new directive entitled: “Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in the microbiology labs they manage. advanced viruses like the new coronavirus. “

Read it again. China appears to have a problem keeping dangerous pathogens in the tubes they belong to, doesn’t it? And how many “microbiology laboratories” are there in China that manage “advanced viruses like the new coronavirus”?

It turns out that there is only one across China. And this is found in the Chinese city of Wuhan which appears to be. . . the epicenter of the epidemic.

Quite right. China’s only level 4 microbiology laboratory equipped to manage deadly coronaviruses, called the National Biosafety Laboratory, is part of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

A member of a medical staff checks the body temperature of a patient who has shown mild coronavirus symptoms.
A member of a medical staff checks the body temperature of a patient who has shown mild coronavirus symptoms.AFP via Getty Images

In addition, the greatest expert of the popular liberation army in biological warfare, a major gen. Chen Wei was sent to Wuhan in late January to contribute to the effort to contain the epidemic.

According to the PLA newspaper, the gen. Chen has studied coronaviruses since the outbreak of SARS in 2003, in addition to ebola and anthrax. This would not even be his first trip to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, since it is one of only two biological weapons research laboratories across China.

This suggests that the new coronavirus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, may have escaped from that very laboratory, and that the work of Gen. Chen is to try to put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak? It does it for me.

Add to this Chinese story of similar incidents. The deadly SARS virus also escaped – twice – from the Beijing laboratory where it was – and probably is – used in the experiments. Both “artificial” epidemics were quickly curbed, but neither would have happened if adequate safety precautions had been taken.

And then there is this little-known fact: some Chinese researchers have a habit of selling their laboratory animals to street vendors after they have finished experimenting with them.

You heard me right.

Instead of disposing of infected animals properly by cremation, as required by law, they sell them on the side to make some extra cash. Or, in some cases, a lot of extra money. A Beijing researcher, now in prison, made a million dollars by selling his monkeys and mice in the live animal market, where they eventually remained in someone’s stomach.

Members of a spray sanitation team disinfect as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.
Members of a spray sanitation team disinfect as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.AFP via Getty Images

Furthermore, fueling suspicions about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is the increasingly scarce apology offered by the Chinese authorities when people started to get sick and die.

At first they blamed a fish market not far from the Institute of Virology, although the first documented cases of Covid-19 (the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2) concerned people who had never set foot there. Then they pointed to snakes, bats and even a small scaly anteater called pangolin as the source of the virus.

I don’t buy any of this. It turns out that snakes don’t carry coronaviruses and that bats aren’t sold in a fish market. Even pangolins are not an endangered species, appreciated as much for their scales as for their meat.

Evidence indicates that SARS-CoV-2 research was conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The virus may have been brought out of the laboratory by an infected worker or crossed by humans when they unknowingly dined on a laboratory animal. Whatever the carrier, the Beijing authorities are now clearly trying to correct the serious problems in the way their laboratories handle deadly pathogens.

China has unleashed a plague on its own people. It is too early to say how many in China and other countries will eventually die from the failures of their country’s state microbiology labs, but the human cost will be high.

But do not worry. Xi assured us that he is monitoring biosafety risks “to protect people’s health”. PLA bio-weapon experts are responsible.

I doubt that the Chinese people will find it very reassuring. Nor should we.

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and author of “Bully of Asia: Because China’s” dream “is the new threat to world order.”

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