Recently released documents have revealed details about a shipment of deadly pathogens in 2019 from Canada's National Microbiology Lab to China—confirming publicly for the first time who sent them, what was shipped, and where it ended up.
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband Keding Cheng, and her students from China were removed from Canada's only level-4 lab over what has been described as a possible "policy breach," according to CBC.
The Public Health Agency of Canada had requested the RCMP to step in several months earlier.
Shipments of the viruses are said not to be related to the outbreak of COVID-19 or research into the pandemic. PHAC also said the shipment and Qiu's eviction from the lab were not related in any way.
"The administrative investigation is not related to the shipment of virus samples to China," Eric Morrissette, chief of media relations for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, said in an email.
"In response to a request from the Wuhan Institute of Virology for viral samples of Ebola and Henipah viruses, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) sent samples for the purpose of scientific research in 2019."
But experts have expressed their concern.
"It is suspicious. It is alarming. It is potentially life-threatening," Amir Attaran, a law professor and epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, said
"We have a researcher who was removed by the RCMP from the highest security laboratory that Canada has for reasons that government is unwilling to disclose. The intelligence remains secret."
"But what we know is that before she was removed, she sent one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, and multiple varieties of it to maximize the genetic diversity and maximize what experimenters in China could do with it, to a laboratory in China that does dangerous gain of function experiments. And that has links to the Chinese military."
"The Wuhan lab does them and we have now supplied them with Ebola and Nipah viruses. It does not take a genius to understand that this is an unwise decision," he said.
"I am extremely unhappy to see that the Canadian government shared that genetic material."
The RCMP and PHAC have stayed the course in denying any connection between the shipment and the pandemic. There is also no evidence to support the claim that the coronavirus was ignited by this shipment, as no coronavirus samples were sent.