BY KATHERINE EBAN
ILLUSTRATION BY ISABEL SELIGER
NOVEMBER 21, 2023
In late October 2017, a US health official from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) arrived at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for a glimpse of an eagerly anticipated work in progress. The WIV, a leading research institute, was putting the finishing touches on China’s first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory. Operating with the highest safeguards, the lab would enable scientists to study some of the world’s most lethal pathogens.
The project had support from Western governments seeking a more robust partnership with China’s top scientists. France had helped design the facility. Canada, before long, would send virus samples. And in the US, NIAID was channeling grant dollars through an American organization called EcoHealth Alliance to help fund the WIV’s cutting-edge coronavirus research.