“This is unprecedented. We’ve never had a biological lab in the United States busted before.”
That was Jesalyn Harper, code enforcement officer in Reedley, California, in an interview with Katy Grimes of the California Globe. Grimes sought out Harper after Reedley officials discovered a covert biological lab run by a shady Chinese company. What local officials found there was also unprecedented.
White mice had been genetically engineered to catch and carry the Covid virus, the MidValley Times reported. The illegal lab harbored potentially infectious bacterial and viral agents including chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes 1 and 5, rubella, samples of malaria and “thousands of vials that contained unlabeled fluids.”
As Harper revealed, the original lab was in Fresno and operated by Universal Meditech, Inc. (UMI), licensed by the state of California on March 20, 2019. On March 24, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development struck a tax credit allocation of $360,000 with UMI. CEO Zhaoyan Wang thanked Fresno’s Economic Development Corporation for “further assistance” with California tax credits.
UMI suffered a fire and faced bankruptcy, and in October, 2022, Prestige Biotech moved the operation to a warehouse in Reedley, a Fresno County town with a population of about 25,000.
Prestige Biotech owner Xiuqin Yao told Harper she lives in China and could only communicate by email. Harper was unable to establish who, exactly, owned the hundreds of mice found on the property. Not a single person would identify as the operator of the lab, and some claimed they were “friends of the owner.”
Grimes asked what kind of civil or criminal charges the lab operators faced. As Harper had also learned, privately funded research and development labs are not required to register with the government. That avoids the multiple permits required of those operating under state or federal grants. Someone in the state could have assisted the owners “to move from Fresno without licenses.”
Harper had also learned that mice are “unprotected” under the United States Department of Agriculture. According to the National Institutes of Health, mice and rats “have long served as the preferred species for biomedical research animal models.” Even so, the covert lab should have been busted long before.
According to court documents, 35 separate refrigerators and freezers contained biological material, blood, tissue, serum, bodily fluid samples, and medical waste. Two freezers were set at minus 80 and minus 60 degrees Celsius and 29 refrigerators at -20 C. According to court documents the low temperatures “raised concerns that infectious agents were stored on site.”
On July 5, officials removed from the property more than 2,000 gallons of “biological material and medical waste.” Chemicals discovered in the warehouse led the California Globe’s Thomas Buckley to brand the operation a “bio-meth lab.” Details have yet to emerge on the people who were working with the infectious agents, and what their intentions might have been.
At the outset of August, the Fresno Bee and Sacramento Bee had not covered the story. Gov. Gavin Newsom had issued no statement on the lab and neither had the California Department of Toxic Substances Control or the California Department of Public Health.
Reedley officials also brought in the federal Centers for Disease Control, but the CDC’s online newsroom shows nothing on the secret lab containing rubella, E. Coli, malaria samples and such. Reedley officials also brought in the FBI but at the end of July the bureau’s website reported nothing on the secret lab.
According to FBI director Christopher Wray, the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic was “most likely a potential lab incident” in Wuhan, China. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was supplied with a cargo of deadly viruses by Chinese national Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, who headed the special pathogens program at Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg.
In 2017-18 alone. Dr. Qiu made at least five trips to the WIV, funded by Dr. Anthony Fauci to perform gain-of-function research that makes viruses more lethal and communicable. Sen. Rand Paul, who has issued an official criminal referral, against Fauci, charges that “viruses that in nature only infect animals were manipulated in the Wuhan lab to gain the function of infecting humans.”
Through a lab leak or deliberate vectoring, the Covid-19 virus made its way around the world, with no interference from CDCs vaunted Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). In early 2020, EIS veteran Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters she was “not at liberty” to discuss the issue of travel from Wuhan. Who, exactly, was calling the shots Dr. Messonnier did not explain, and her telebriefings faithfully echoed China’s talking points.
Research with viruses and bacteria is risky, even in government BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs. As Rep. Bart Stupak noted in 2007, “No one in the federal government even knows for sure how many of these labs there are in the United States, much less what research they are doing or whether they are safe and secure.”
No safeguards of any sort existed at the covert laboratory in Reedley, California. Such a facility could easily speed the spread of Covid-19 or disease from other infectious agents. Embattled Americans have a right to know how many covert Chinese labs are out there and what, if anything, state and federal officials are going to do about it.