Fresno city officials detail history with firm tied to secret COVID lab

The company behind the secret COVID lab in Reedley is attempting a comeback in Fresno, city officials confirmed.

More details are coming out about Universal Meditech, the company with ties to the secret biological lab discovered in Reedley. 

Thursday, the City of Fresno detailed Universal Meditech’s business dealings within the city, which includes the company’s efforts at setting up a new lab. 


The backstory: According to the Fresno County Department of Public Health, Prestige Biotech purchased Universal Meditech’s assets after the company went bankrupt. 

  • Universal Meditech had a legal lab in Fresno that was damaged by a fire in 2020, serving as a precursor to the company’s bankruptcy. That lab, located on 1320 E. Fortune Ave., had been occupied from August 2018 until the fire. 
  • After the fire, the Fresno Fire Department found that the building contained unpermitted lab walls and unpermitted electrical wiring. 
  • In November 2022, Universal Meditech CEO Xiaoxiao Wang notified the city that there was a dispute with the property’s landlord, which preceded the company moving out in December and starting its search for a new lab. 
  • Prestige Biotech opened up its secret lab in Reedley last year, which contained COVID-19 tests, pregnancy tests, containers of bodily fluids and infectious agents and nearly 1,000 mice that were bioengineered to carry COVID-19. 

Driving the news: Universal Meditech and Prestige Biotech submitted operational statements to the city for a new warehouse and office space near Fresno Yosemite International Airport on March 15, 2022, and June 20, 2023. 

  • The new warehouse is located at 3900 N. Blattella Lane and is 17,000 square feet. 
  • On Wednesday, the city sent a letter to Ford Tetra Partners – the owner of the building – outlining current issues ongoing with Universal Meditech and Prestige Biotech. 
  • As of Thursday, the building had not received final inspections or an occupancy permit from the city. 
  • Universal Meditech and Prestige Biotech will be unable to open a new warehouse without providing a list of hazardous materials and have the appropriate hazardous material handling permits. 

Go deeper: Universal Meditech also received $150,000 in Payment Protection Program loans – the forgivable COVID-19 relief loans designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic. 

  • According to federal records, received two loans of $74,912 apiece. They were forgiven on July 14, 2021 and Feb. 22, 2022. 
  • Universal Meditech reported 15 employees that would benefit from the forgivable loans for the first loan and 13 employees for the second one. 
  • In its application, the company said it works in in-vitro diagnostic substance manufacturing and surgical and medical instrument manufacturing. 
  • Universal Meditech listed the address of the warehouse that burned down – 1320 E. Fortune Ave. – as its headquarters.
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