Chinese scientists working in Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab are being investigated for breaking patent laws and possible misrepresentation, among other things.
two chinese scientists fired
In January 2021, Chinese scientists Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Chen were fired from the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab. In the spring of 2019, Qui supervised the shipment of the Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute Of Virology.
In July of 2019, Qui and Chen, as well as several of their students, were escorted out of the lab in a high profile incident. At the time, little was known, but national headlines pointed toward an ongoing investigation by the RCMP.
In January of 2021, it was announced that Qui and Chen had been fired, as more details emerged.
In the summer of 2021, it was revealed that Qui had illegally registered patents for Ebola and Marburg inhibitors in China while working at Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab. Canada's Public Servants Inventions Act requires that all inventions made by a public servant employed by the Canadian government become property of the Canadian government. Under the act, public servants cannot register patents in foreign countries without the minister's approval.
Despite the speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding the shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute Of Virology, it is unlikely to have been an illegal or criminal transaction. Many countries and virology labs around the world have joined into partnerships and agreements for scientific research and discovery. In late 2018, the Wuhan lab made an official request for the pathogens for purposes of research and analysis, according to Canada's health agency.
Although it is ethically questionable, following allegations about a lab leak causing the Coronavirus pandemic and due to the Wuhan Institute's "gain-of-function" research, the Winnipeg lab's partnership with the Wuhan lab is not unusual.
Virus samples are routinely shared between virology labs around the world.
However, ATIP documents published by the CBC in June of 2020 reveal emails between the Winnipeg lab's director-general at the time, Matthew Gilmour, and David Safronetz, the chief of special pathogens, showing some concerns with the safety of how the viruses were shipped. It was also revealed that the viruses where about to be inappropriately shipped until scientists in China notified Winnipeg lab employees of a mistake. According to documents, the virus samples were inappropriately packaged until Chinese workers intervened before the shipment took place on a commercial Air Canada flight, May 31st, 2019.
The Winnipeg lab was notified by Chinese scientists that the package had arrived safely a few days later.
illegal patents, misrepresentation, possible Espionage
In 2019, it was reported that Xiangguo Qiu was barred from the Winnipeg National Microbiology lab for failing some security background checks, but such reports have yet to be confirmed. In early 2021, it was revealed that Qiu and Chen had illegally filed patents in China while they were employees of the Canadian government, which is a direct contravention of the Public Servants Inventions Act.
Qui filed patents with the Chinese government that were closely related to her work in the Winnipeg lab.
Although the RCMP investigation is shrouded in mystery, it has been reported that illegal patents were filed in China, likely without the Canadian Minister Of Health's permission, and that some documents filed by Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Chen in Canada may have contained misrepresentations.
Qiu and Chen may also be facing accusations of espionage, which could be another facet of the RCMP investigation, although such reports have not yet been confirmed.
1996 - Xiangguo Qui arrives in Canada for graduate studies
2003 - Qui is employed as a biologist at the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab
2018 - Dr. Xiangguo Qiu is awarded the Governor General's Innovation Award for her work on ZMapp treatments for Ebola
2018 - Qui is named as a co-inventor in a patent issued in China
2019 - Qui, Chen and several graduate students are escorted off the premises of the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab
2021 - Qui and Chen are officially fired from their jobs at the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab