Fact Check: Was U.S. Army’s Bioweapons Lab At Ft. Detrick Shut Down Right Before Covid Pandemic?

Fact Check: Was U.S. Army’s Bioweapons Lab At Ft. Detrick Shut Down Right Before Covid Pandemic?

Fact Check: Was U.S. Army’s Bioweapons Lab At Ft. Detrick Shut Down Right Before Covid Pandemic? Photo: Dr. Catherine Wilhemson, biosecurity manager for U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, steps into a decontainination show room March 15, 2004, during a tour of USAMRIID’s Patient Containment Lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. Dr. Wilhelmson is wearing a Biosafety Level 4 positive pressure suit. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)

The timing of the shutdown of a U.S. Army bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, has raised questions such as: was the closing connected to the about-to-be-unleashed covid-19 pandemic?

U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories (USBWL) was built in 1931 and was in use until 2019. USBWL consisted of a suite of research labs under the control of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Research and Development Command.

In August 2019, five months before the U.S. reported its first official case of the virus on Jan. 21, 2020, USBWL’s deadly germ research operations were shut down by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention following serious safety violations, the Independent reported.

The U.S. biowarfare labs later reopened in April 2020, despite global opposition, causing “wide anger”, Global News reported.

“We have reasons to ask the U.S. government to publish the real reason for the close of Fort Detrick, to clarify whether the laboratory is the research unit for the new coronavirus and whether there is a virus leak,” wrote netizen “B.Z.” on a White House website, petitioning for more data from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID.)

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There were accusations that information was being scrubbed off the Internet.

“B.Z., as well as many other U.S. netizens, have been pointing the finger at the US information cover-up of USAMRIID, saying ‘a large number of English news reports about the close of Fort Detrick were deleted,'” Global News reported,

Some are wondering if the virus was initiated at the U.S. lab, and not Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The U.S. lab had worked with other deadly diseases in the past. In fact, it was known for its research on the Ebola virus as well as some of the deadliest viruses and pathogens such as smallpox and anthrax.

The lab has been the epicenter of the U.S. Army’s bioweapons research since the beginning of the Cold War, and in the past, developed bioweapons. There have been concerns that this activity continued even after the U.S. officially abandoned its biological weapons program in 1969.

The lab now claims its primary mission today is to “protect the warfighter from biological threats,” but its scientists also examine outbreaks of disease among civilians and other threats to public health, The Independent reported.

Suspicions about the lab’s closure have sparked the social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick”, started by the Communist Youth League, AP reported.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called for a World Health Organization investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland, raising even more questions.

“If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua told AP.

Some in China say the U.S. lab’s closure was timed to take the spotlight off China and put the blame for the covid-19 pandemic on its Wuhan lab.

“Its purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing fake degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.”

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Could the outbreak of a mysterious respiratory illness at two assisted-living facilities near the USBWL be tied to covid? The timing of the lab’s closure has many wondering. Was the USBWL testing the covid virus as a potential bioweapon? Did it lead to an outbreak of illness at Greenspring Village in Springfield, Virginia, 55 miles from Frederick, Maryland? The outbreak led to the death of several people, The Washington Post reported.

Residents and staff of Greenspring Village reported illness that led to hospitalizations and deaths starting in June 2019, McKnight Senior Living reported.

The same illness was later found at Heatherwood Retirement Community in Burke, Virginia, Patch reported.