COVID lab leak fight obscures the global rise of high-security biolabs

The number of high-containment labs around the world conducting potentially risky scientific research is surging, despite a lack of global agreement on how to make sure they’re safe.

There are 69 so-called Biosafety Level 4, or BSL-4, facilities designed to study dangerous infectious pathogens in operation, under construction or planned worldwide, according to Global Biolabs, a tracking project run out of King’s College London and George Mason University in Virginia. About a decade ago, there were only 25.

These are the labs in which workers wear hazmat suits and handle deadly viruses and organisms, monitored by highly sophisticated security systems.


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