In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are afoot to build more than 40 high-level biosafety laboratories around the world, including in India, the Philippines and Singapore. Investments in biosafety labs often follow major epidemics, but some researchers are concerned about the growing number of facilities that will handle some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens.
Some scientists worry about the huge cost of maintaining biosafety-level-3 (BSL-3) and BSL-4 facilities, whereas others fear the risks posed by these labs, such as the possibility of creating pathogens that are more dangerous or of microorganisms escaping.
But researchers in the countries that plan to build these laboratories say they are needed. The lack of high-security labs in some regions became particularly apparent during the pandemic, because work on the live virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, must be done at a BSL-3 or BSL-4 facility.