Canada sent Nipah virus to Wuhan; Lab conducts ‘most dangerous research’ on Nipah, scientist testifies in US Senate


An American scientist recently testified in a US Senate hearing that his research provides evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted synthetic biology research on the deadly Nipah virus. Some scientists are concerned that Canada is sending the Nipah and Ebola viruses to a lab potentially engaged in such research.

“The Nipah virus is a smaller virus than SARS2 [virus causing COVID-19] and is much less transmissible. But it is one of the deadliest viruses, with a lethality of over 60%. It’s 60 times more deadly than SARS2,” Dr. Steven Quay, a Seattle-based medical researcher, told a Senate subcommittee during a hearing Aug. 3.

Quay, who was formerly on the faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine for about a decade, further said that the work on Nipah at the Wuhan lab was not conducted in state-of-the-art facilities. biosafety 4 (BSL-4), which have the highest level of biosafety. , but rather in BSL-2 or -3 installations with inferior security protocols.

“This is the most dangerous research I have ever encountered,” he said.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Quay said international agreements prohibit synthetic biology on certain deadly viruses such as Nipah and Ebloa. Synthetic biology is the creation or redesign of biological entities and systems. An example of synthetic biology is gain-of-function (GoF) research, which involves increasing the lethal level or transmissibility of pathogens.

Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg shipped Nipah and Ebola virus samples to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in March 2019 after receiving a request from the Chinese lab. The expedition was organized by Chinese-born scientist Xiangguo Qiu who was working at the NML at the time, with permission from her superiors. Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, were raided by RCMP at the lab in July 2019 and later fired for undisclosed reasons.

The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in a file photo. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Quay said his research was based on reviewing information from early COVID-19 patients that China had uploaded to international databases and finding “20 unexpected contaminants” that should not be found in samples. humans, including Nipah virus and other materials such as honeysuckle genes. . He said these materials were likely contained in the samples due to cross-contamination from other research at WIV.

Quay said that except for the Nipah virus, the other 19 things he and his collaborators found that “shouldn’t be in a human” have been published in scientific papers by the WIV, with the institute explaining, for example, the work they were doing with honeysuckle genes or horse viruses.

“So 19 of our findings were validated that we were testing exactly what had happened in the lab the previous two years. But one thing they didn’t publish on was this Nipah virus work. there is no publication about it,” he said.

Quay said the strain of Nipah virus they found was not the same as the strain Canada sent to WIV.

Joe Wang, Ph.D, who previously led a SARS vaccine development program in Canada with one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, says there are concerns for Canada to send virus samples to a laboratory engaged in such research.

“At the very least, the WIV could use the samples sent by Canada for comparison with synthetic biology research on the other Nipah strain,” said Wang, who is now president of NTD Television Canada, a media outlet. sister of The Epoch Times. in Canada.

Bernard Massie, Ph.D., a virology researcher who retired from the National Research Council of Canada as acting director general, says he would ‘think twice’ before sending samples of deadly viruses at WIV. He adds that with today’s technology, it’s also convenient for labs to build their own virus sequences, but that takes more effort.

“It’s certainly much faster to get a viral isolate than to build it every time. It’s more convenient,” he said in an interview.

The Epoch Times contacted the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which is in charge of the NML, but had no response at the time of publication.

Internal NML documents released by Parliament show that when an NML official asked why the lab was being requested by the WIV for virus samples, a member of staff said it was historically easier to obtain NML material compared to US labs, and that neighboring labs do not have the capacity to ship such samples.

Wuhan P4 Laboratory
Specialists work inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

At a parliamentary committee meeting in March 2021, MPs challenged NML’s senior leadership over why the lab had allowed the shipment of Nipah and Ebola virus to WIV.

The NML’s acting chief scientific officer, Guillaume Poliquin, told MPs that the lab only sent the samples to the WIV after being assured that no GoF research would take place.

Tory MP John Williamson said in response that the word of a state-run Chinese lab cannot be trusted because the Chinese regime “has a history of theft and lies”.

NML

Before being ousted from the NML, Qiu traveled to the WIV several times, helping to train the lab’s staff on Level 4 biosafety.

Qiu has also collaborated and published articles with Chinese military researchers, including Major General Chen Wei of the People’s Liberation Army.

Qiu and her husband Cheng, along with a group of Chinese students, were escorted from the NML in July 2019 as part of a police investigation. Both were officially fired from the lab in January 2021.

The federal government declined to provide details on why Qiu and Cheng were fired, citing privacy and national security concerns. This was contested by opposition parties, with MPs in the House of Commons issuing an order in the previous Parliament requiring the government to release the information.

The government took the Speaker of the House to court seeking the withholding of the documents, then dropped the lawsuit once an election was called on August 15 and parliament was dissolved.

Cathy He contributed to this report.

Omid Ghoreishi

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Omid Ghoreishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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