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Open for Military Business: Ebola Research at Canada's Only BSL-4 Lab

On July 5 2019, Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were removed by Canadian police from the Canadian National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Their security clearances were also retracted, allegedly over “administrative issues.” Qiu is an expert in Ebola and was in charge of the NML’s pathogen and vaccine division. Cheng is an expert in proteomics. The NML is Canada’s only Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory for the study of pathogens highly hazardous to humans. Starting in 2017, Qiu went at least five times to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Over a five year period she also published papers with the leading members of China’s civilian/military virology establishment who may have had access to the Winnipeg lab.  A few months before their suspension, Qiu organized the shipment, which was authorized, of many strains of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In January, 2021, the couple were finally fired. Canada’s Parliamentary committee on Canada-China relations has been unable to find out why: the government has refused to hand over unredacted documents about that firing, claiming they will cause embarrassment to Canada and compromise national security. In this section, drawn from her new book, On the Origin of the Deadliest Pandemic in 100 Years, Canadian investigative journalist and prize-winning non-fiction author Elaine Dewar digs into their story and its links to the origin of SARS-CoV-2.