By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
In operation since 2022…
Code enforcement check uncovers illegal lab making COVID-19 and pregnancy test kits, bacterial and viral agents and 900 white miceUniversal MediTech and Prestige Biotech were using and storing reagents on site that were imported from outside the U.S.—using these foreign chemicals requires a federal permit that the business owners didn’t have, according to the document.
CG: Why would a COVID lab run by a shady Chinese company be operating in Reedley, CA in the central San Joaquin Valley? The lab, which was supposed to be an empty building, was discovered by Reedley city code enforcement officers when they saw a garden hose attached to the building and investigated.
Darren Fraser at the MidValley Times reported earlier this week that the building has been illegally operated since October 2022 by Wang Zhaolin of Prestige Biotech, and the lab was used to produce COVID-19 tests and pregnancy tests.
City of Reedley officials called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI, the State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the State Department of Health, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH).
“Reedley officials and personnel from CDPH and FCDPH executed a warrant on March 16 to inspect the warehouse at 850 I Street,” MidValley Times reported. “According to a declaration from Humero Prado, Assistant Director of Fresno County Public Health, which was filed in superior court, investigators discovered that one room of the warehouse was used to produce COVID-19 and pregnancy tests. In other rooms, investigators found blood, tissue and other bodily fluid samples. They also found thousands of vials that contained unlabeled fluids.”
And they found 900 genetically engineered mice, engineered to catch and carry COVID-19, living in “inhumane” conditions. 773 of the mice had to be euthanized, and officials found another 178 mice already dead.
Mid Valley Times further reports:
“From May 2 through May 4, the CDC’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins inspected 850 I Street. Court documents confirm the CDC found potentially infectious agents at the location. These included both bacterial and viral agents, including: chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes 1 and 5 and rubella. The CDC also found samples of malaria.”
“Court documents identify Xiuquin Yao as the alleged president of Prestige. Neither Reedley nor FCDPH was able to obtain from Yao any substantive information regarding Prestige or why infectious agents and mice were being stored at 850 I Street other than to say that the company was developing diagnostic testing kits.”
“Court documents include copies of an email exchange Prado conducted with David He, who identified himself as a representative of Prestige, beginning May 31 and continuing through June 13. Over the course of numerous emails, Prado repeatedly asks He to provide documentation regarding licensed medical waste disposal, Prestige’s reasons for storing infectious agents and how the company will respond to the biological abatement orders handed down by FCDPH.”
“They (Prestige) completely avoided the questions,” Prado said. “This individual (He) was either unaware or was intentionally trying to mislead us.”
Officials were unable to get any California-based address for either company except for the previous Fresno location from which UMI had been evicted.
“The other addresses provided for identified authorized agents were either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified,” court documents said.
Prestige BioTech is accused of failing to comply with orders, including providing a plan for biological abatement and disposal of the materials. Emails sent to Yao and Prestige BioTech requesting comment were not immediately answered Thursday.
Prado told NBC affiliate KSEE of Fresno that those associated with Prestige BioTech were not forthcoming with information. Court documents say they failed to provide any licensing or permit that allows experimentation or other laboratory activity.