If you google “Where did coronavirus come from?” you’ll come across rumors that COVID-19 started in a lab. (It didn’t.) There are more movies, books and video games about unscrupulous scientists unleashing pandemics than you could shake a Purell-covered stick at. But when asked to name an instance when a dangerous pathogen escaped a lab and infected the public, biosafety expert Allen Helm draws a blank. To his knowledge, it’s never happened.“I don’t know of any evidence of any bugs that have gotten out,” says Helm, a senior biosafety officer at the University of Chicago. That’s in large part due to scientists whose job is making sure that dangerous viruses and bacteria don’t leave the lab. Levels of RiskThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks biosafety hazards based on how dangerous they are and how easily they can spread disease. Level one might encompass working with blood samples from a healthy person. Level four would cover highly…



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