The California medical supply company Universal Meditech Inc. (UMI) and its validity and links to China were called into doubt after reviewing court documents, health reports, and interviews with persons who conducted business with them.
Officials in the municipality of Reedley, in central California, claimed ignorance of what was happening within the abandoned warehouse where the biolab was found late last year, prompting instant concern. The CDC found 20 distinct types of disease-causing organisms in the facility, previously used for food packaging. Mice were discovered dead or dying, along with cultures of TB, dengue fever, human immunodeficiency virus, simian pathogen X-19 (SIV-19), and malaria.
In the CDC report, it is stated that Prestige Biotech or different owners of the products in the warehouse haven’t complied with document requests from several partner agencies entirely, indicating that it has been difficult to get credible information from UMI o Prestige Biotech or its management.
UMI is accused of violating federal safety regulations, misleading customers about the accuracy and reliability of its COVID-19 test kits, and stiffing its lawyers.
It has been alleged that UMI tricked local attorney Justin Vecchiarelli into offering free legal services to the firm. Vecchiarelli’s complaint contends that UMI mixed commercial and personal funds and shuffled assets to evade demands from creditors.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration database connected UMI’s work with pregnancy tests and other lab studies to a business in British Columbia, and anonymous researchers aided the company’s inception in China and Canada.
According to the evidence presented in court, UMI is owned by Guangdi Packaging Material Co. Ltd., a Chinese corporation. According to the import records, several of the shipments received in Fresno by UMI were traced back to Guangdi.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assessed that “there is insufficient information at this time to indicate that there has been a breach” of two federal regulations that strictly regulate the importation or ownership of infectious biological agents.
It is unclear whether or when charges would be filed in relation to the Reedley subterranean lab inquiry, which is still in its early investigative stages.
Assessing the problem “will take time to address,” but the California Department of Public Health is working with local, state, and federal partners.