A congressional subcommittee has launched an investigation into whether the mysterious Chinese-linked lab discovered in Reedley “posed a threat to public health.”
Wednesday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, sent letters to the FBI and Dept. of Health and Human Services, asking for documents and information by Wednesday, Sept. 6.
“It is highly concerning that an unlicensed lab operated by a Chinese company on American soil was apparently conducting dangerous research involving COVID-19 and other viruses,” Wenstrup wrote in near-identical letters to FBI Director Christopher Wray and HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra.
“It is highly concerning that an unlicensed lab operated by a Chinese company on American soil was apparently conducting dangerous research involving COVID-19 and other viruses.” — Rep. Brad Wenstrup
The lab, discovered by Reedley code enforcement in December, led to a full investigation involving local, state, and federal agencies. Approximately 1,000 mice, genetically modified with COVID-19, were discovered along with other biological agents.
Court records indicate that Chinese nationals were behind the lab, operated by Prestige Biotech. The lab started under Universal Meditech Inc. but came under Prestige’s control after UMI had financial troubles. Prior to arriving mysteriously in Reedley, the lab operated for several years in Fresno. An attempt to move back to Fresno was recently thwarted by city officials.
Authorities shut down the Reedley lab, but information did not become public until July.
“As mounting intelligence and evidence supports that COVID-19 likely originated at a lab in Wuhan, China, conducting a thorough investigation into Prestige Biotech’s illegal bio-lab on U.S. soil is crucial to protecting America’s national security and preventing future outbreaks and pandemics,” Wenstrup said in a news release.
The requests include any documents and communications with Prestige/UMI; and any documents and communications with other local, state, and federal agencies. The letter to HHS also asked for information found by the CDC Division of Select Agents and Toxins inspection of the Reedley lab.
Earlier this month, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, speaking to Fresno-area reporters, called for a congressional investigation into the lab.
More on the Subcommittee
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is part of the House Oversight Committee.
“We are committed to investigating the origin of COVID-19, but also assessing the federal government’s ability to keep America safe from biological threats. This assessment is critical to bolstering our ability to prepare for and prevent future pandemics,” Wenstrup wrote, describing the subcommittee’s work.
The 16-member subcommittee has nine Republicans and seven Democrats. Three are California members — ranking member Raul Ruiz, D-Indio; Robert Garcia, D-Long Beach; and Ami Bera, D-Sacramento.
Another notable name on the subcommittee is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia.