Agencies investigated an illegal medical warehouse in central California that housed potential pathogens and ran by a company with links to China.
Here’s What You Should Know
The company that allegedly operated an illegal bio lab in California housing infectious agents has ties to multiple related Chinese pharmaceutical firms, according to a review of court filings and government records.
In mid-June, Reedley, California officials discovered a bio lab operating without a license or permit. Inside the lab were nearly 1,000 mice bioengineered “to catch and carry the COVID-19 virus” and “at least 20 potentially infectious agents from chlamydia to hepatitis.”
Officials from Fresno County began removing medical waste operated by Prestige Biotech Inc. (PBI), the successor of defunct Universal Meditech Inc. (UMI), Fresno County court records show.
According to the documents, inspectors at the site discovered at least 20 potentially infectious agents, such as Malaria and Dengue virus, on the property.
The lab was only discovered because an inspector noticed a garden hose hooked up to the warehouse. It took 76 days and 14 different agencies to inspect and clean up the facility from April to July earlier this year.
Ties To China
According to the Daily Mail, the research facility was busted earlier this year in the sleepy California town of Reedley, where investigators found disease-riddled mice and hundreds of samples of pathogens, blood, and dubious chemicals piled up in storage boxes and fridges.
The lab was run by Universal Meditech Inc, a company with strong ties to China, which made unlicensed Covid and pregnancy tests sold across Texas and California as far back as October 2021.
Perhaps the biggest piece of this story that has gone under the radar is the company’s plans. In March, Universal Meditech applied to occupy a warehouse and office space at 3900 N. Blattella Lane in Fresno, California. The company previously operated in Fresno, with a fire breaking out at the previous location, where “hazardous conditions were evident throughout the bio lab.”
Why is 3900 N. Blattella Lane notable? Because that would put the Chinese-linked bio lab and its infectious agents and bioengineered COVID mice right next to Fresno Yosemite International Airport, also home to the Fresno Air National Guard Base.
According to court documents, an individual named David He communicated with the investigators on behalf of Prestige Biotech. Emails in the filings show He disputing that infectious agents were stored on the property.
Experts fear for public safety given the possibility of a leaked pathogen and a scarcity of details from the state and federal government.
Dr Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert and director of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Research, said: ‘This was a very disturbing news story.
‘Given the potential for such laboratories to accidentally unleash agents that can endanger the public, we need regulation to ensure biosafety is maintained at all times in laboratories around the world studying infectious pathogens’.
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