After the 2003 SARS epidemic, China constructed the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (Level 4) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2015. The aim was to prepare for and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks

As the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak escalates, the only lab in China which is equipped to study and deal with such deadly and emerging infectious diseases is located in Wuhan — the city where the virus first appeared.

The lab — the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (Level 4) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences — works with and studies the world’s most dangerous pathogens such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Ebola. However, scientists had warned in 2017 that a dangerous virus could escape the lab. According to Nature, some scientists outside China were worried about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a “biological dimension to geopolitical tensions” between China and other nations.

“Tim Trevan, the founder of CHROME Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting in Damascus, Maryland, says that an open culture is important to keeping BSL-4 labs safe, and he questions how easy this will be in China, where society emphasizes hierarchy,” said the 2017 Nature article.

 

U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)

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