Britain’s most important biolab is allegedly insecure

The Brits, including myself, have criticised the Chinese for their alleged lax attitude towards maintaining the highest standards of security at their Wuhan biolab in order to prevent the escape of zoonotic diseases into public places. At one time it was believed that the Wuhan biolab was the source of the destructive Covid-19 pandemic which is still stubbornly with us. It has transpired that Brits were hypocritical as a report by MPs has warned that the administrators of Britain’s most important laboratory dealing with animal diseases (including those that can transmit to humans) have ‘comprehensively failed’ to keep the facility in a decent state of repair thereby jeopardising the public.

The Weybridge facility

The Weybridge facility. Britain’s biggest animal disease biolab. Photo in the public domain.

Although the government says that the Weybridge site “is an internationally recognised veterinary research and laboratory testing facility” the report claims that the poor condition of the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s main research facility exposes the public to viruses and other pathogens that could be transmitted from animals to humans having leaked out of the laboratory.

That is how the Covid-19 started which is believed originates in bats which were eaten by pangolins and then a pangolin was slaughtered at a Wuhan wet market, releasing body fluids onto the person slaughtering the animal with ingested the Covid 19 virus being the first man on the planet to contract that awful disease.

Britain’s House of Commons public accounts committee said that there were more than 1,000 potential points of failure at the facility. It is overseen by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but managed, as I understand it, by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The report claims that “Inadequate management and under-investment” has left the site “continually vulnerable to a major breakdown” according to The Times report.

The site is going to be upgraded but it will take a long time and in the meantime the claim appears to be that this is a dangerous facility particularly as the UK faces the most serious bird flu epidemic on record and that we’ve just suffered Covid-19.

The bird flu virus might mutate they say which could make it far more dangerous. APHA are meant to be at the forefront of the response to the bird flu epidemic which has, incidentally, devastated Turkey farmers in the run-up to Christmas with some of them in tears saying that they have had to destroy their entire flock and in one case that amounted to 18,000 birds.

The claim is that the UK has allowed its capacity to deal with animal epidemics such as the 2001 disaster of foot-and-mouth disease to deteriorate “alarmingly” over the past decade.

The head of the Department of veterinary medicine at University of Cambridge, Prof James Wood, said: “The steady decline of the facilities at Weybridge has been evident to those working in them over many years.”

Defra denies the claims and says: “Significant funding and work is already underway to upgrade its laboratories and ensure we are protected from diseases into the future. It’s world-leading scientists and our field teams are playing a vital role in responding rapidly and decisively to the threats from animal diseases, including the current avian influenza outbreak.”

Cat Ringworm. This case is unusually clear and obvious. Sometimes you'll just see rough areas of skin under thinning fur. And the nose might be affected.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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