Disinfo: Original source of COVID-19 is an American military biological warfare laboratory

Summary

The original source of the COVID-19 virus is the American military biological warfare laboratory at Fort Detrick.

Disproof

Conspiracy theories 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 iswas fabricated insidelaboratories. This Coronavirus comes from a family of viruses that include the common cold and viruses such asSARS andMERS, and the medical Journal “Emerging Microbes & Infections” specifically said there is “No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering”. In August 2019, a US Army laboratory at Fort Detrick, in the state of Maryland, that studies deadly infectious material and cures for diseases such as Ebola and smallpox was shut down for a period of time after aCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspection that occurred in June. It was partially reopened in December 2019, and is nowhelping in the fight against Covid-19. The suspension was due to multiple causes, including a 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 Program. You can see other examples of this narrative in our database, such as claims that Bill Gates and George Soros are sponsoring the coronavirus, that it is a UK, US or NATO creation and that the Americans have its cure, that it is an artificial disease which specifically targets Chinese DNA, that it was created with economic goals while big pharma companies are spreading panic for their own profit, that it is a biological weapon against Russia and China, that it will wipe out Ukraine’s population in a few days or that it was predicted by Nostradamus and others.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 24/03/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English, Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Iran, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Virus / bacteria threat, Biological weapons, Conspiracy theory

Belarus

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Coronavirus pushed the West into the Middle Ages

A combination of systemic crisis and the coronavirus epidemic dealt a blow to the West’s mythical unity. Western countries refuse to help each other by sending medical equipment or providing financial assistance. The US organised a military operation to export half a million of coronavirus tests from Italy, despite the deficit Italy is facing. The West is sinking in the Middle Ages, where everyone is for himself. The longer the epidemic stays, the further back in time the West will be submerged. The only positive aspect is that the combination of a global systemic crisis, low hydrocarbon prices, and the coronavirus pandemic may replace a new world war by moving away unsustainable political entities.

Disproof

This message is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin claims about the EU's helplessness in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and a common narrative about the EU's imminent collapse. The European Union is supporting Member States in addressing the crisis and has adopted measure to mitigate the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. To support scientific research into COVID-19, the European Commission earmarked 47.5 million EUR for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks. The EU has also created first ever stockpile of medical equipment. Read more about the EU's response here and here. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Italy, Spain, Portugal and possibly even France are in line to exit the EU, that a number of EU countries teeter on the brink of default, and that the coronavirus and economic crisis caught the EU by surprise because of its Russophobia.

Western sanctions are a result of Crimea's return to Russia

Western countries imposed since mid-2014 several sanctions on Moscow because of the return of Crimea to the strength of Russia, and because of Russia’s position on the Ukrainian crisis.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Moscow based on an illegitimate referendum. On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. On 17th December 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Due to coronavirus, Italy is on the brink of default, many European states will likely cease to exist

The course of events in the next months can change Europe’s political map. Many European countries will likely not get through it, they will merge with bigger ones. Total economic downturns point at their absolute incapability to deal with the crisis. Italy is on the brink of default, and nobody can help it. The EU just does not possess enough money for saving the Italian economy. Everyone will care about himself in the first place. The situation is dramatic, similar events took place in the 1910s, 1920s, 1940s.

Disproof

This message paints a far-reaching gloomy economic and political scenario which is consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative about the EU's imminent collapse. Whereas the economic consequences of coronavirus outbreak for Italy are indeed grave and a sharp economic slowdown is expected, it will not inevitably face default as alleged. At present, no EU country has a credit rating low enough to justify that claim. The EU as a whole enjoys a very high credit rating. Before the coronavirus outbreak it was rated AAA/Aaa/AAA/AAA (outlook stable) by Fitch, Moody’s, DBRS and Scope and AA (outlook stable) by Standard & Poor’s. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the coronavirus puts EU’s existence into question, that Italy, Spain, Portugal, and possibly even France are in line to exit the EU, that a number of EU countries teeter on the brink of default, and that the EU is rotten and countries are leaving it.

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