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China's Wuhan lab operating 'covert operations' in Pakistan, creating "anthrax-like" pathogens: Report

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 25 Jul 2020

With the world still battling COVID-19 outbreak, Pakistan and China have entered a secret three-year deal to expand potential bio-warfare capabilities, including running several research projects related to the deadly agent anthrax, media reports said.

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak on Chinese soil, China’s now infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology has signed the covert deal with Pakistan military’s Defense Science and Technology Organization (DESTO), to collaborate research in “emerging infectious diseases” and advance studies on the biological control of transmitted diseases, reports The Klaxon.

According to highly credible intelligence sources, the program is being entirely funded by China and is formally titled the “Collaboration for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Studies on Biological Control of Vector Transmitting Diseases", it said.

Intelligence sources, including from the Indian subcontinent, have told The Klaxon they have serious concerns about the secret project, which involves China testing biological agents outside its borders in an apparent bid to minimize the “risk of drawing condemnation from the international community”.

“DESTO has been engaged in various dual-use research projects related to anthrax under a covert biological weapons program,” one senior intelligence source told the news portal.

The source told the news portal China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology had “lent all financial, material and scientific support for the project”.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology  has made it to the headlines internationally in recent months as it is believed that COVID-19 is believed to have originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

There had been speculation the disease may have emerged from that laboratory, however most experts have since discounted the theory, reports The Klaxon.

The covert China-Pakistan project has conducted “successful soil sampling tests” to isolate Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), which has a “striking similarity” to Bacillus Anthracis – or anthrax – The Klaxon is told.

“Considering the striking similarity between BT and Bacillus Anthracis, a classified bio-warfare agent, (Pakistan’s) improved know-how in handling the bacteria could enrich a potential offensive biological program,” one source said.

Pakistan had been provided with the reagents for Bacillus Thuringiensis by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Wuhan lab was providing “extensive training on manipulation of pathogens and bio-informatics” to Pakistani scientists “to help Pakistan develop its own virus collection database”.

“This could help Pakistan enhance its capability of genetic identification of viruses, access to dangerous microorganisms, and use of genomic tools for research and infectious diseases,” an intelligence source told The Klaxon.

The secret project was “detached from supervision of civilian universities or government health departments in Pakistan” and was structured so as to allow “unspecified” future operations.

The agreement “clearly outlines that the cooperation is not necessarily limited to stated objectives” and “new thematic research to monitor potential new diseases can be added by either party”, a source told the news portal.




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