Disinfo: The US might develop pathogen agents provoking dangerous diseases abroad including in the Lugar Lab located in Georgia

Summary

It cannot be excluded that laboratories around the world are used by the US to develop pathogen agents provoking dangerous diseases. Moreover, there are reports that the LUGAR centre in Georgia has recently been visited again by Pentagon officials who have offered the Georgian authorities to expand the areas of study.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the coronavirus pandemic and the Tbilisi-based Lugar Lab. The Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), which became operational in August 2013. The Lugar centre is a top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory for Georgia’s public health system. In no case this laboratory has been designed or redesigned to build biological weapons, though this is a trope in Russian media. Read more about Lugar lab on Myth Detector.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) French, English, Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Georgia, US
  • Keywords: Lugar Laboratory, Biological weapons, Maria Zakharova
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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.