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VC Sheriff Confirms Testing Continues With Fulgent Genetics Despite L.A. Sheriff’s Objections

Ventura County continues to use Fulgent Genetics for COVID-19 testing amidst widespread attention over the company’s security and associations with China. Ventura County’s decision is strikingly different from the scenario playing out in neighboring Los Angeles County, where Sheriff Alex Villanueva halted the use of Fulgent Genetics, maintaining his stance in the face of Fulgent’s threatened legal action.

Patrick Maynard, director of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO) of Emergency Services, confirmed that as of April 11, “The County of Ventura continues to use Fulgent for PCR COVID-19 testing service. That is the only type of service they are providing to us. We used to use Let’s Get Checked labs as well, but our supplies for that lab have been completely consumed, so we are only using Fulgent at this point.”

Fulgent came to public scrutiny when the FBI met with Villanueva on November 26, 2021, regarding an “urgent, time-sensitive matter,” at which time Fulgent was identified as a matter of concern. Also in attendance at this meeting were Undersheriff Tim Murakami, Chief of Staff John Satterfield, L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport and Rodrigo Castro-Silva, County Counsel. Following this meeting, the Sheriff announced that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) would no longer use Fulgent Genetics for COVID-19 testing over concerns about its ties to China.

This decision was made “due to the fact the DNA data obtained is not guaranteed to be safe and secure from foreign governments and ‘will likely be shared with the Republic of China,'” his November 29 letter to the board begins, quoting the November 26 FBI meeting.

Further on in the letter, Villanueva explains, “I was shocked to learn Fulgent had strong ties with BGI, WuXi, and Huawei Technology, all of which are linked to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the Peoples Republic of China State Council (PRC) and are under the control of the PRC. I was even more shocked to learn Fulgent made no attempt to disguise the fact they will use the genetic information obtained in future studies. On the Fulgent public website, the following statement can easily be found, ‘I also give permission for my specimen and clinical information to be used in de-identified studies at Fulgent and for publication, if appropriate.’ Additionally, the 2017 China Cyber-Security law makes it legal for PRC to seize any data stored within China, or stored outside of China by an entity which has a presence in China, and that organizations and network operators submit to government-conducted security checks.”

He continued, “This is further explained recently in a New York Times article from October 22, 2021, ‘U.S. Warns of Efforts by China to Collect Genetic Data.’ This article explained, ‘Chinese companies are collecting genetic data from around the world, part of an effort by the Chinese government and companies to develop the world’s largest bio-database.’

I am deeply concerned as to the vetting process which either failed to discover this, or discovered it, but chose to ignore it,” the Sheriff said.

Fulgent responded with a letter within days denouncing claims of information-sharing with the People’s Republic of China, with assurances that Fulgent is an “American company.”

In Ventura County in February, VCSO Captain Cameron Henderson, Sheriff’s Adjutant and Public Information Officer, told the Conejo Guardian that, like Villanueva, “The [Ventura County] Sheriff met with the FBI” concerning the COVID-testing provider. But Ventura County’s sheriff came to a different conclusion.

“Based on their information, there wasn’t any confirmed release of information at the time,” said Henderson. “In addition, the service agreement between the County of Ventura and Fulgent Genetics prohibits the sharing of personal health information with an outside party, so at this time, there has been no change to the testing process.”

The County apparently felt compelled to address the issue with its own staff. According to Carmen Ramirez, Ventura County Supervisor, “In an email to employees last month [February], Lisa M. Garrett, the county’s director of personnel, said: ‘The County has no evidence from any law enforcement agency or any other source that any County employee data has been or will be shared with the Chinese government.'”

While Fulgent continues conducting tests in Ventura County, Villanueva hasn’t wavered in his stance on vaccine mandates or on his rejection of Fulgent.

“As the leader of the sheriff’s department, I took action in good faith based on the information that was supplied by the FBI. So we withdrew our participation with Fulgent,” he said.

Fulgent’s public relations representative, Nancy J. Sterling, commented to the Guardian that she has “no expectations” of how long the process for litigation will take.

The Ventura County board of supervisors was scheduled to vote for an extension of the Fulgent contract at its April 26, 2022, meeting.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sheriff Villanueva is doing the right thing, and the VC Supervisors & current Sheriff’s leadership is remiss in not doing their proper due diligence in protecting our interests against those of the CCP.

    I’d bet Sheriff’s candidate Jim Fryhoff might have a different take on the situation and for that reason and several others, we will be voting for him in June.

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