New Delhi: Chinese military senior epidemiologist Major-General Chen Wei, who co-developed a single-injection Covid vaccine, had collaborated on Ebola research with a scientist who was later fired from a high-security lab in Canada, a new report found.
According to the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, Major-General Chen had worked with Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, a former scientist at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, on two scientific papers on Ebola, published in 2016 and 2020. NML is the only laboratory in level 4 in Canada, which researches the world’s deadliest diseases.
The report, released Thursday, noted that the identity of the Chinese major-general was withheld and that instead of revealing her ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), she was identified as simply “Wei Chen,” a doctoral epidemiologist who had previously worked at the Beijing Biotechnology Institute.
However, The Globe and Mail confirmed that Wei Chen and Major General Chen are the same person.
The Chinese military scientist was also recently congratulated by President Xi Jinping for her contribution to the development of CanSino’s single-injection Covid vaccine.
Meanwhile, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the country’s leading federal health organization, the NML did not have institutional arrangements with the LPA.
“Although the NML does not have institutional agreements with the Chinese military, Canadian scientists have collaborated with Chinese scientists to contribute to the global public health fight against deadly diseases, such as Ebola. These collaborations have produced candidate vaccines and treatments for diseases, as peer-reviewed journals show, ”said PHAC spokesperson Anne Génier. The Globe and Mail.
However, PHAC declined to release information as to whether Major-General Chen had ever visited the Winnipeg lab, citing privacy laws.
Several opposition leaders also slammed the government of Justin Trudeau for allegedly “withholding” information about the Chinese scientist and her links to the NML.
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Dr Qiu’s dismissal
Major-General Chen’s connection to Dr Qiu was first brought to light by journalist Elaine Dewar, in her new book On the origin of the deadliest pandemic in 100 years: an investigation.
Dr Qiu and her husband, Keding Chang, were fired from their positions at NML in January. However, the reasons for their dismissal have not been officially disclosed.
Their security clearances, including some of Dr. Qiu’s students in the lab, were revoked in July 2019 – four months after the NML shipped the Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
The same month, investigation was also launched by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to find out whether the two laid-off scientists had passed the intellectual property over to China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to The Globe and Mail.
This series of events has evolved into Canada’s “Winnipeg-lab conspiracy theory”, which points to an alleged link between the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2019 shipment of samples to China.
However, this theory was rejected by Dewar. “This particular conspiracy theory is nonsense, and there is absolutely no evidence to support it,” she said. Recount CBS News.
But the author commented on the cooperation between the two countries. “The cooperation raises questions about what kind of collaborations the sensitive government lab should undertake.”
“When you involve military scientists, it becomes a bigger question because it can be militarized,” she added.
Meanwhile, Gary Kobinger, an infectious disease specialist who worked with Dr Qiu until 2016 and shared an award with her, called Qiu a “very ethical person.”
Read also : Senior US general called on China over fears Trump would order military strike, new book says
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