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Global Times

Guangdong Province to build 25-30 P3 labs, one P4 lab within five years

Global Times

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/25 11:54:06

South China's Guangdong Province is gearing up to plan and construct 25 to 30 P3 laboratories and at least one P4 laboratory within five years, said the head of the science and technology department of Guangdong recently during the country's annual two sessions.

According to Wang Ruijun, deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and director of the department of science and technology of Guangdong, 25 to 30 P3 laboratories will be planned and constructed, among which at least seven will be 'P3 plus' labs capable of undertaking large animal research.

"It is hoped that we can basically fulfill P3 lab requirements within three years and build at least one P4 lab within five years," Wang said.

During this year's two sessions, P3 lab construction has been hotly discussed among Guangdong representatives.

Biosafety laboratories are divided into four biosafety grades according to the infectivity and harmfulness of contagious diseases studied: P1, P2, P3 and P4. The higher the grade, the higher the level of protection.

P3 labs have played an important role in the prevention and control of COVID-19. They are used to isolate virus strains, study the virus' invasion mechanism, track mutations, and conduct vaccine development and drug screening.

Zhou Haibo, NPC deputy and Party secretary of Qingyuan People's Hospital in Guangdong, called for the construction of P3 laboratories, while Wu Qingping, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and honorary director of the provincial institute of microbiology, also said it was necessary to boost their construction.

"From SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola, H5N7 and other viruses to the novel coronavirus, all relevant virus research needs to be carried out in P3 or P4 laboratories," said Zhou, adding that P3 laboratories in China are generally located in universities, research institutions or customs points.

Compared with countries like the US, the number and scale of P3 and P4 laboratories in China is highly inadequate.

There are nearly 1,500 P3 labs in the US, almost all of which are located in medical institutions or medical schools. There is a severe shortage of high-level biosafety laboratories in China, especially in Guangdong, industry insiders said.

"There is no P4 lab and no high-level P3 lab capable of carrying out large animal experiments in Guangdong, and only five P3 labs below that level," Wang said.

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