Malefactors the world over now know that a novel pandemic infection released on mankind can create as much death, suffering and economic damage as atomic weapons.

The current COVID-19 pandemic certainly surfaced in Wuhan, China, late in 2019, with likely possible origin from bats that harbor such viruses endemically. Such bats are kept in two disease research laboratories there, plus possibly being sold for food in a local live food market – but no other known sources exist there.

Viruses mutate frequently, but only infrequently successfully manage the multi-step jump from one host species to another. A coronavirus managed this feat apparently by jumping from bats to civet cats to humans in 2002 in Guangdong, China, causing the deadly severe adult respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic then. Containment strategies managed SARS without vaccine development. However, it is known that part of the virology – China's only "maximum security" viral research lab – was to provoke viruses to jump species as a starting point to develop vaccines against "possible future infections."

Aside from the advisability of deliberately trying to create new strains of possibly deadly pathogens, common sense would suggest all such research be done only in remote locations far from population centers, with a suitable quarantine period observed for those leaving such sites before rejoining open society. It is not unheard of to have pathogenic species escape maximum security research labs, including Beijing, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom and our own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Performing such research within population centers makes as much sense as building a Chernobyl-type nuclear reactor in Manhattan.

In fact, moving all U.S. risky pathogenic viral research to the unused Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear disposal facility is a splendid idea.

William Moore

Bowling Green

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