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China sets up first high security bio lab

Updated: Jan 31,2015 5:17 PM     Xinhua

WUHAN — China completed its first high level biosafety laboratory on Jan 31 after more than a decade of construction.

The lab, based in Wuhan, capital city of central Hubei province, will be used to study class four pathogens (P4), which refers to the most virulent viruses that pose a high risk of aerosol-transmitted person-to-person infections.

Its completion was hailed by the country’s top science think tank as crucial in the fight against epidemics such as Ebola.

Launched after the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the lab was jointly built by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Wuhan municipal government. Most of its technology and equipment was imported from France, which cooperated closely with China in its design.

The Wuhan P4 lab enables China to join just a handful of developed countries operating such facilities to help handle the most virulent pathogens.

The lab is important for China’s public health defense system, said CAS President Bai Chunli.

“It will play crucial role in enhancing the country’s ability to prevent and control new epidemics as well as to develop related vaccines,” he said.

The Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 8,800 people out of 22,000 known cases, almost all of them in the West African countries Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Chinese researchers plan to use the new P4 lab to conduct research that includes working on the Ebola virus, according to the CAS.