Significance of High-Containment Biological Laboratories Performing Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Biosafety Level-3 and -4 Labs

Kenneth B. Yeh, Kairat Tabynov, Falgunee K. Parekh, Illich Mombo, Kyle Parker, Kaissar Tabynov, Shelton Bradrick, Ashley S. Tseng, Ji Rong Yang, Lolly Gardiner, Gene Olinger, Bradly Setser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

High containment biological laboratories (HCBL) are required for work on Risk Group 3 and 4 agents across the spectrum of basic, applied, and translational research. These laboratories include biosafety level (BSL)-3, BSL-4, animal BSL (ABSL)-3, BSL-3-Ag (agriculture livestock), and ABSL-4 laboratories. While SARS-CoV-2 is classified as a Risk Group 3 biological agent, routine diagnostic can be handled at BSL-2. Scenarios involving virus culture, potential exposure to aerosols, divergent high transmissible variants, and zoonosis from laboratory animals require higher BSL-3 measures. Establishing HCBLs especially those at BSL-4 is costly and needs continual investments of resources and funding to sustain labor, equipment, infrastructure, certifications, and operational needs. There are now over 50 BSL-4 laboratories and numerous BSL-3 laboratories worldwide. Besides technical and funding challenges, there are biosecurity and dual-use risks, and local community issues to contend with in order to sustain operations. Here, we describe case histories for distinct HCBLs: representative national centers for diagnostic and reference, nonprofit organizations. Case histories describe capabilities and assess activities during COVID-19 and include capacities, gaps, successes, and summary of lessons learned for future practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number720315
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 13 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • biosecurity
  • BSL-3
  • BSL-4
  • COVID-19
  • high containment biological laboratory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering

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