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COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call for Biosafety

There are good reasons why gene editing was included in the list of “weapons of mass destruction and proliferation” by a top US intelligence official. Report by Jonathan Matthews

Like many of our readers, we may be sheltering-in-place, but please don’t think we’re taking our eye off the ball. Although other issues may not seem so important at the moment, the COVID-19 virus will subside one day, yet we will still be facing huge threats such as the so-called “extinction crisis” (the collapse of biodiversity) and the failure to take biosafety seriously. Interestingly, the pandemic is making many people more alert to exactly these kinds of issues.

Take, for instance, biosafety. While some experts have stated that COVID-19 has not been deliberately genetically engineered and released as a bioweapon, the possibility that it emerged from a research laboratory has not been ruled out. 

For instance, Rutgers University’s Prof Richard Ebright, a biosecurity expert who has been speaking out on biosafety issues for nearly 20 years, thinks that the COVID-19 pandemic could have started as an accidental release from a lab, such as one of the two known to have been studying bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, where the new coronavirus first emerged.

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