BSL4 facility

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Concept.png BSL4 facilityRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
BSL4 facility.jpg
Interest ofJonathan Latham
Venues of research and development into the most hazardous pathogens.

A Biosafety level 4 (BSL4) facility is able to handle the most dangerous pathogens, such as those which are both easily spread and potentially fatal and therefore could be utilised as biological weapons.

Selected examples

Asia

China

2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak map.jpg

The only such facility in mainland China is the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 8.6 miles from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market which the World Health Organization linked to the first reported cluster of Covid-19 patients, 44 people who became unwell with pneumonia of unknown cause, at the start of what was then referred to as the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, later the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Europe

UK

Porton Down

North America

USA

The United States operates many level 4 labs worldwide.[1][2] Accidents do happen while operating these labs,[3] and there are "inventory discrepancies", although the CDC's culture of secrecy surrounding such occurrences hinders understanding of how regularly. USA TODAY repotred in 2017 that "more than 100 labs working with potential bioterror pathogens have faced secret federal sanctions for safety violations, yet regulators allowed them to keep experimenting while failing inspections, sometimes for years".[4]

Especially notorious is the Plum Island bio lab near Long island.[5][6] It was operated only as a biosafety level 3 lab,[7] but it stands as an well documented example for technical and administrative problems that these facilities face.

Fort Detrick

Fort Detrick

Fort Detrick is the Maryland BSL-4 facility that the FBI concluded was the origin of the anthrax used in the Amerithrax attacks originally blamed on Al Qaeda. The research facility was shut down by the CDC in July 2019, citing failure to follow local procedures, lack of periodic recertification training for workers in the biocontainment laboratories and problems with the wastewater decontamination system.[8]

 

Examples

Page nameDescription
CDCThe main US government body charged with preventing disease outbreaks
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency
Fort DetrickA Maryland BSL-4 facility that the FBI concluded was the origin of the anthrax used in the Amerithrax attacks originally blamed on Al Qaeda.
National Institutes of Health
Wuhan Institute of VirologyChina's only BSL4 facility, which carries out "gain-of-function" research, iuncluding creation of transgenic novel coronaviruses by combining SARS with HIV.
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References