Background

The Bureau of Industry and Security has announced that, at present, an export license is generally not required for exports to most destinations of the virus causing the current outbreak of coronavirus or its genetic elements. Instead, this virus and its specific genetic elements will continue to be classified as EAR99. However, certain end-users, end-uses, and destination countries may require a license for exports of EAR99 items.

For more information on export license requirements, please contact export compliance attorney Kristine Pirnia.

According to BIS, earlier this month the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses classified the causative agent of the COVID-19 respiratory disease as SARS-CoV-2 and said it is a variant belonging to the species severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus. The Commerce Control List currently controls the export of SARS-CoV under ECCN 1C351.a.46, “severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-related coronavirus).”

BIS states that while the official nomenclature of the species exactly matches the entry for SARS-CoV on the CCL, SARS-CoV-2 is a genetically distinct virus and causes a clinically distinct disease. In addition, the existing SARS entry was intended to capture only the virus causing severe acute respiratory syndrome after its etiology, pathogenicity, and epidemiology were well established in the public health community, whereas the SARS-CoV-2 virus has already undergone numerous nomenclature changes within the last three months and the specifics of the disease transmission, progression, and lethality are still being investigated. As  a result, BIS currently considers SARS-CoV-2 to be distinct from the SARS-CoV virus and will continue to classify it as EAR99.

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