Sheriff Alex Villanueva informed county supervisors of his decision to withdraw from the program in a letter on Nov. 29.
“This letter is to inform you the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Department) will not participate in COVID-19 registering or testing with Fulgent Genetics Corporation (Fulgent), 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,’” Villanueva wrote in the letter.
The sheriff said he was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) weapons of mass destruction coordinator about Fulgent Genetics and met with the coordinator on Nov. 26.
Villaneuva said he was shocked to learn that the company had strong ties with BGI, WuXP, and Huawei Technology, all of which are linked to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Peoples Republic of China State Council, which are under the control of the CCP.
Fulgent Genetics Chief Commercial Officer Brandon Perthuis denied the sheriff’s accusations that the company was collecting DNA data from the tests and sharing it with the CCP.
“Fulgent Genetics operates privately and independently in the People’s Republic of China and does not share personal data of any kind with the Chinese government,” Perthuis said in a statement.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) asked Fulgent Genetics on Twitter Tuesday about its privacy statement that declares the company may store, process, and transmit personal information in locations around the world, including locations outside of the country.
Lieu’s office was not immediately available.
The no-bid contract signed between the county and Fulgent Genetics allows them to collect DNA data obtained from mandatory COVID-19 testing, for unknown purposes, Villanueva said. This has shattered all confidence the department’s personnel had in the process, he said.
The department will implement its own registration system that had no association to Fulgent, Villanueva said.