Linking unknown pneumonia in Kazakhstan to US military labs lacks evidence: experts

By Zhang Hui and Huang Lanlan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/10 22:08:40

File photo:Xinhua

Some Chinese netizens have speculated about the possible link between US biological labs in Kazakhstan and the unknown pneumonia reported in Kazakhstan on Friday, calling on the US to investigate and make public the information of the labs. But virologists dismissed such speculation and said linking the two lacks evidence. 

The topic "unknown pneumonia" in Kazakhstan soon became the hot topic on many Chinese social media platforms on Friday. The topic was viewed more than 800 million times on Weibo as of press time.  

Some netizens doubted the possible link between the deadly pneumonia and the biological labs that the US helped build in Kazakhstan.

All of the three Kazakhstan states with the most reported pneumonia cases have the US labs inside or near the states, wrote one Weibo user. "A detailed investigation on these labs is necessary to reassure the public," he added.

On Twitter, some users also guessed that the virus outbreak could have been the result of US biological labs. "It's alleged that the labs are developing bio-weapons for use against other countries," one user wrote, forwarding a post related to the "unknown pneumonia" in Kazakhstan.

However, Jin Dongyan, a professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, believes the unknown pneumonia was probably the COVID-19, as Kazakh authorities failed to detect it due to its poor medical conditions. 

Jin said connecting the unknown pneumonia or COVID-19 to US labs is groundless, as there is no evidence the virus causing the pneumonia was man-made. He believes making such a virus is technically impossible. 

International experts and the World Health Organization have stated repeatedly that the novel coronavirus cannot be leaked from labs. 

This is not the first time that US labs have been linked to epidemics, and some analysts said the US government needs to respond to the controversy and publish the relevant information of its labs; otherwise, the public will get more suspicious. 

US netizens have called on the US government to disclose the true reason for closing the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick since March, and to determine the connection between the base closure and the outbreak of an e-cigarette disease and COVID-19. 

The Fort Detrick laboratory that handles high-level disease-causing material, such as Ebola, was shut after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a cease and desist order to the organization in July 2019. 

Soon after the base was closed, the area around it was hit by a mysterious outbreak of e-cigarette disease, followed by a flu which infected at least 32 million people and caused 18,000 deaths. 

In 2006, a petition asking local senators to take a further look at a possible "cancer cluster" near the Fort Detrick base got more than 14,000 signatures on

There have been mounting calls in the international community for the US to investigate its labs, and also make a timeline of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.

The US has 1,495 P3 labs which do not include the many biological laboratories set up by the US in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

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