Disinfo: Chinese questions about the virus were never answered

Summary

China has officially requested the United States to conduct a health examination of the members of the US Military Sports Mission, which participated in the Military World Games, which was held in Wuhan in October 2019. But the United States did not respond to the Chinese request. The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick (Maryland) is funded for the purpose of developing viruses and germs that can be used as weapons in biological wars. After it was closed in July 2019 because polluting materials leaked out of it, China has detected that residents of areas close to the institute were exposed to a severe flu wave in August 2019, which infected more than ten thousand people.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory about the 2019-nCoV coronavirus. There is no evidence to suggest that the virus is being used as a weapon against other states or that is has been fabricated inside laboratories. The expert scientific consensus holds that the coronavirus has natural origins; there is no credible evidence supporting claims of laboratory engineering. Apart from the American soldiers, there were in fact 17 teams with over 280 athletes and staff from different countries and nations participating in the Military World Games that was held from October 18-27, 2019 in the capital of Hubei Province in Wuhan. The coronavirus started to spread 65 days after the closing ceremony of the Military World Games, and so far there is no evidence to prove any connection between the two events. The Pentagon has had confirmed cases and is bracing for more to emerge, but “no illnesses have been tied to American service members” in the period that followed the Military World Games. In August 2019, a US Army laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland that studies germs and toxins that could be used to threaten the military or public health, and also investigates disease outbreaks as Ebola and smallpox was shut down for a period of time after a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspection that occurred in June, and was partially reopened in December, and is now back up running and helping in the fight against COVID-19. The suspension was due to multiple causes, including failure to follow local procedures and a lack of periodic recertification training for workers in the biocontainment laboratories. The wastewater decontamination system of the lab also failed to meet standards set by the Federal Select Agent Programme. Caree Vander Linden, a spokeswoman, ensured that “there has been no threat to public health, no injuries to employees" and "the leaks were within the lab and not to the outside world".

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: China, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Virus / bacteria threat, fake news, Biological weapons, Conspiracy theory
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Coronavirus is safe because it only kills old people

COVID-19 is a great virus. Children almost do not get sick, and the average age of the victims is 79.5 years.

Disproof

Regular disinformation about the coronavirus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene. People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus. Graham Roberts, an honorary consultant paediatrician at the University of Southampton, explains: "Children (with COVID-19) are predominantly affected in their upper airways (nose, mouths, and throats) so they get cold-like features rather than the virus managing to access their lower airways, ie lungs, and giving the pneumonia and life-threatening Sars picture that we see with adult patients." The proportion of infected children who went on to develop severe or critical COVID-19 illnesses with breathlessness, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and shock was much lower (6%) than among Chinese adults (19%) – especially older adults with chronic cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. However, there are still cases of children dying from COVID-19. For example, on April 4, a five-year-old child in the UK with underlying health conditions passed away.

Myth about Ukraine as a separate nation was created in the USSR

In the USSR, a myth was created about Ukraine as a country, in which another type of people lives – “Ukrainians”. They were separate, albeit “fraternal”, people. They supposedly consisted of boys and girls in costume, and, as such, were considered to be “folk”. This complimentary, and not substituting identity is the only thing that can help the future of Ukraine and its people. Not concept of “Ukrainian, not Russian”, but that of “Little Russian and Russian”. This will return to Ukraine the meaning of existence as a truly Little Russia, as an integral part of the Russian world.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin propaganda narrative questioning the Ukrainian statehood. Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state that has preserved language, literature and identity despite foreign rule for long periods. It is a sovereign state whose borders are guaranteed by international agreements but were violated by Russia, which started a war in Ukraine. The publication uses a derogatory term 'Little Russians' to identify Ukrainians, which derives from imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Ukrainians and undermining Ukraine's sovereignty. See also previous narratives claiming that there is no Ukraine, that Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians are the same nation, and that Ukrainians are Russians, not Ukrainians.

EU is suffering from the sanctions against Russia

Sanctions against Russia are speeding up the suffering of the European economy.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Western sanctions on Russia claiming that they have backfired. Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine.

According to research into the effect of sanctions, the cumulative export loss to Russia during 2014-2018 is estimated at EUR 30 billion (about -0.2% of EU’s GDP in 2018), incurred largely during 2014-2016, as EU exports to Russia recovered in 2017. While these sanctions do effect EU's economy, the EU-wide impacts of the export losses are estimated at less than 0.2% of total value-added and employment.