Wuhan lab faced biosafety issues as COVID-19 emerged, report finds

A lab conducting advanced coronavirus research in China faced numerous biosafety issues in November 2019 around the time COVID-19 emerged, according to a new federal report obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The 300-page report, released by Senate Republicans on April 17, is the culmination of an 18-month investigation that included an analysis of numerous medical studies, scientific journals and Chinese government documents. 

The report details a Chinese investigator who started working on a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in November 2019 "before the known outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic." The timing of the research suggests some Chinese officials may have known about the virus earlier than thought, according to the report. 

That fall, the Wuhan Institute of Virology — located in the city where the pandemic started — also ramped up its biological safety protocols, the report found. Investigators discovered that a high-ranking biosafety official visited the lab around that time. The lab also acquired new safety equipment and conducted biosafety training for staff.

The report concludes that the pandemic likely began from a lab accident, though the investigators who compiled the report could not definitively identify the pandemic's origins.

"It is not beyond a shadow of a doubt, but there certainly is a preponderance of evidence that shows that this virus originated from an unintentional lab leak in Wuhan, China," Sen. Roger Marshall, a member of the Senate Health Committee, which released the report, told the Journal.

China's National Health Commission did not respond to the Journal's request for comment. 

Read the full article here.


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