Outrage Grows Over CDC Inaction On Chinese Biolab In California

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Feb 26, 2024 - 10:40 PM

Authored by Steve Ispas and Lear Zhou via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

It was as simple as flipping a switch, but doing so could have catastrophic consequences.

A secret Chinese biolab in Reedley, California. (Paulio Shakespeare for The Epoch Times)

Jesalyn Harper, a City of Reedley code enforcement officer, had to determine whether to turn off the power to a secret Chinese biolab in California in order to prevent a fire that inspectors had said was a risk.

But with the power off, the freezers’ contents would thaw, with potentially dangerous consequences. The biolab was full of thousands of vials of possible infectious pathogens.

She called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for advice.

“It was a very short-lived and frustrating phone call that ended with them hanging up,” said Ms. Harper.

She left the power on.

That was in March 2023, months after Ms. Harper had first discovered the biolab in December 2022 and alerted authorities.

Ms. Harper found inside what was supposed to be an unoccupied warehouse, thousands of vials of potentially infectious agents, including ones labeled as coronavirus, chlamydia, E. coli, streptococcus pneumonia, HIV, hepatitis, herpes, rubella, and malaria. A freezer was labeled “Ebola” and about 1,000 lab mice were kept for experimentation.

But there was no single authority that could deal with all of the pathogens, chemicals, and biological hazards and the response became drawn out.

City of Reedley Code Enforcement Officer Jesalyn Harper (R) stops outside of the biolab. (Paulio Shakespeare for The Epoch Times)

It wasn’t until local officials contacted their congress member, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), asking him to intervene at the federal level, that the CDC responded to California state government and local official requests, according to a congressional report from the Select Committee on the CCP that was published in November 2023.

In early May 2023, the CDC spent two days inspecting the biolab, along with several other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fresno County Public Health, and the California Department of Public Health.

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.) told The Epoch Times he is trying to find out from the CDC why the agency initially “looked the other way” as local officials tried to get their attention.

They [CDC] didn’t investigate for months and months and months and months,” Mr. Kiley said. “Why? What are your protocols for responding to credible intelligence of public health risks that are present in our communities?

“Why would you not be on top of that right away?”

However, when the CDC did visit the biolab, it wouldn’t investigate something unless it had a specific label on it, according to Ms. Harper.

The agency created a report for 20 items that were labeled, and those items were sprayed down, disinfected, and put in special waste containers to be incinerated.

“CDC officials confirmed that the CDC made this list of pathogens based solely on the labels that were placed on samples. The CDC did not test these samples to assess whether the listed labels were correct or otherwise,” the congressional report states.

According to local officials, they also asked if the CDC could at least test a random sample of the pathogens. The CDC still refused,” the report states.

“Despite their limited local budget, local officials then offered to pay the CDC for the entirety of the cost of testing these samples. The CDC still did not and left the site.”

Meanwhile, it was becoming apparent that behind the Chinese man who controlled the biolab was a tangled web of Chinese shell companies operating in the dark in several countries.

Jia Bei “Jesse” Zhu, a Chinese national and wanted fugitive in Canada, controlled both Universal Meditech Inc., which initially owned the biolab, and Prestige Biotech, which later took over the lab. After the biolab was discovered, Mr. Zhu, using the false name “David He,” introduced himself to Reedley city officials as a “special representative” of Universal Meditech and asked them not to destroy the pathogens and requested to move them to another location. Local officials refused.

Then, another two months after the CDC’s inspection, the Ebola freezer was discovered. The freezer was among 32 refrigerators and freezers that Fresno County public health staff had observed in the biolab.

A city worker found the freezer in July 2023 and unfolded the white piece of paper taped on top “and that paper read ‘Ebola,’ and it was handwritten,” Ms. Harper said.

None of the silver sealed bags tossed inside the freezer were labeled, she said.

“They [CDC] didn’t come, they didn’t test, they didn’t even ask us to sample,” Ms. Harper said. “Unless an item is actually labeled ‘Ebola,’ it doesn’t fall under the CDC purview.”

The city never found out what was in the silver bags, as the CDC never examined them.

Dave Daigle, a spokesman for the CDC, told The Epoch Times via email that, “CDC did not discover any label on a freezer that identified Ebola virus or any other select agent or toxin at the time of their onsite support.”

As CDC determined that, at the time of the on-site review, there wasn’t evidence of violation select agent and toxin regulations, CDC does not have regulatory authority to unilaterally enter or seize materials,” Mr. Daigle wrote.

The county was left to coordinate the destruction of the freezer along with more than 103 tons of general waste and 448 gallons of medical and biological waste.

More than 40 trash can-sized containers of biohazardous waste were removed from the Chinese biolab after its abatement. Officials had to dispose of more than 103 tons of general waste and 448 gallons of medical and biological waste. (City of Reedley)

“How did you not comprehensively enough investigate and search the facility to find a whole freezer that had Ebola labeled on it?” Mr. Kiley said.

“I mean, this is very serious stuff. It’s labeled with Ebola, how do you not find that and test that as well?”

Mr. Kiley, as well as the Select Committee, are looking for an explanation from the CDC about the Ebola freezer.

“We are concerned by the freezer labeled ‘Ebola’ reported by local officials,” the report states.

It is concerning that, when this was brought to the CDC’s attention, a CDC employee did not take meaningful action in response.”

The Select Committee noted that the CDC confirmed that it didn’t contact the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, the government biodefense laboratory located in Fort Dietrich, Maryland, “that could potentially have provided greater assistance.”

CDC spokesman Mr. Daigle said, “While CDC currently has no regulatory or investigative authority over this building, CDC continues to collaborate with federal, state, and local partners to provide technical guidance on biosafety and biosecurity as requested and appropriate.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., on Aug. 25, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

At the Biolab

Universal Meditech allegedly misbranded, sold, and distributed hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests using FDA lot numbers that didn’t exist, according to a criminal complaint.

Mr. Zhu is accused of importing more than over 47,000 pregnancy test kits that were made in China and selling them to the American public “without being registered with the FDA as was required.”

We discovered these devices on Amazon, in just doing our own research,” Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba told The Epoch Times.

According to an abatement warrant filed on June 15, 2023, during a city inspection of the biolab on March 16, 2023, a room was found “housing hundreds of laboratory mice,” according to the Select Committee report.

A person associated with Prestige Biotech and who appeared to be in control of the Property, informed the investigators that these mice were genetically engineered to catch and carry the COVID-19 virus,” the report stated.

In March 2023, Prestige Biotech President Xiuqin Yao emailed City of Reedley officials and asked about the mice.

According to the select committee report, she wrote in her email that the mice were a “special purebred population that took six years to build up” and were “of special significance in the study of immunology and oncology.” She also said the transgenic mice were “biological assets” that were worth “hundreds of thousands or even one million” dollars.

Ms. Yao asked the city to keep the mice and take care of them until she could travel to the United States from China, but she was delayed due to a “visa backlog.”

Despite repeated requests from the City of Reedley officials, Ms. Yao “failed to provide any certifications or licenses from any state or federal agency for storage and experimentation on mice and other laboratory activities” at the Reedley biolab, the select committee report stated.

Ms. Zieba said that the transgenic mice had been modified in order to have the ability to simulate the human immune system. The mice were destroyed.

“We pleaded with the authorities, prior to euthanizing and even after euthanizing these mice, to test these mice, and they refused to test them,” said Ms. Zieba.

The biolab contained approximately 1,000 transgenic mice in inhumane, crowded conditions. (Fresno County Public Health Department/Judicial Watch, City of Reedley)

According to the congressional report, the CDC compiled its list of pathogens based on the labels that were on the samples. They didn’t test these samples to see if the labels were correct, or test any of the samples that were labeled with a code that was a combination of Mandarin characters or English letters and numbers, or test the samples that were unlabeled.

The congressional report quotes the CDC as stating, “Although some pathogens could have come from Nigeria or Canada, there were no import or shipping records available at the time of the visit to establish conclusive evidence of violations.”

In its three-page report, although the CDC hadn’t tested any samples, it concluded that there “was no evidence of select agents or toxins” at the biolab, according to the congressional report.

In October 2023, after the county had destroyed the illegal biolab’s contents, Mr. Zhu and Universal Meditech, through lawyers, submitted a claim to the city for $30 million for “unlawful seizure by city officials” and another to the county for $50 million for “unlawful seizure and destruction by county officials.”

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