House China committee details CDC’s failure with secret Reedley biolab

The CDC hung up on Reedley officials concerned about the lab and refused to test a freezer believed to contain Ebola, telling city officials that it was not a concern.

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party released its findings of its investigation into the secret Reedley biolab on Wednesday. 

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) and Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) joined the committee for its report, along with Reedley City Manager Nicole Zeiba. 


The big picture: Wednesday’s report revealed that Reedley city officials attempted to reach out to the FBI and CDC after initially discovering the warehouse that contained various infectious diseases and bioengineered mice, but received no help. 

  • The FBI declined to investigate, and the CDC refused to speak to the city and hung up the phone on local officials mid-conversation on several occasions. 
  • The CDC only stepped in after the city went to Costa with its concerns and he pressed the CDC to get involved. 
  • CDC agents identified at least 20 infectious agents, yet refused to test samples or examine unlabeled vials. City officials repeatedly requested testing and offered to pay for it, but the CDC refused. 
  • The CDC reached the conclusion that there was no evidence of select agents or toxins and that the materials should be destroyed. 
  • Following the CDC’s investigation, the city discovered a freezer labeled “Ebola” which was filled with sealed bags. The CDC did not find that freezer in its search. When confronted, the CDC said it was not a concern unless the individual packages were labeled “Ebola” and did not merit testing. 

What they’re saying: McCarthy said Congress should not have been needed to get involved since the local representatives did the right thing and reached out to federal authorities. 

  • “The CDC and others hung up on them, ignored them, until Congressman Jim Costa called them,” McCarthy said. “But when the CDC showed up they should’ve done what was right then, and they did not. They did not test the pathogens. They did not even find all of them. They left a freezer with Ebola in it, and we know how lethal that is and what could happen, especially in the Central Valley. Watching what is going on in this lab, the testing and the mice dealing with COVID and others, we still don’t have the clear understanding.” 
  • McCarthy called for legislation that would provide safeguards on pathogens to regulate how they are purchased on the internet and to compel the CDC to take action in similar situations. 
  • “You think about infectious diseases, and you think about the control of them,” Costa said “And we’re thinking about how the COVID really came out of China and a lot of questions that are there in line, that we would allow a Chinese nationalist to come to this country and to set up a private lab. And what we found is that all it takes to set up a private lab in America is to get a business license.” 

Update: The CDC issued the following statement regarding the committee’s report: “CDC strongly disputes the report’s conclusions critical of the agency. The report includes numerous inaccuracies, including both the charge that CDC did not respond to local requests for aid and the false implication that CDC had the authority to unilaterally investigate or seize samples from PBI’s Reedley building. Indeed, CDC has, and continues to be actively engaged, within its regulatory authorities, in the intergovernmental efforts to address issues surrounding the facility.”

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