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China’s Reckless Labs Put the World at Risk
Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the WHO team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan
Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China’s Reckless Labs Put the World at Risk

Michael R. Pompeo & Miles Yu

The Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with viruses. Its army of scientists claim to have discovered almost 2,000 new viruses in a little over a decade. It took the past 200 years for the rest of the world to discover that many. More troubling is the party’s negligence on biosafety. The costs and the risk to world health are enormous, as evidenced by a novel coronavirus that escaped Wuhan. This situation can’t continue. The world must hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and punish Beijing if it fails to uphold global biosafety standards, including basic transparency requirements.

The most recent example of this malfeasance is playing out around us. The evidence that the virus came from Wuhan is enormous, though largely circumstantial, and most signs point to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV, as the source of Covid-19. In America, concern about the site is now broad and bipartisan. The Biden administration stated that it has “deep concerns” about the World Health Organization’s investigation into the early days of the pandemic, particularly Beijing’s interference with the investigators’ work.

The world has known for a long time that WIV poses a huge risk to global health. Two 2018 State Department cables warned of its biosafety problems. They even predicted that SARS-CoV-2’s ACE2 receptor, identified by WIV scientists, would enable human-to-human transmission. Yuan Zhiming, then director of WIV’s biosafety level 4 lab, warned, “The biosafety laboratory is a double-edge sword: It can be used for the benefit of humanity, but can also lead to a disaster.” He listed the shortfalls prevalent among China’s biology labs, including a lack of “operational technical support, professional instructions” and “feasible standards for the safety requirements of different protection zones and for the inoculation of microbiological animals and equipment.”

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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