Is the current monkeypox outbreak from a US lab strain made in Ukraine?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Monkeypox Outbreak Is From US Lab Strain Made In Ukraine!
People are sharing tweets by a Dr. Benjamin Braddock who claimed that the 2022 monkeypox outbreak is from a “third lab strain” made by the US in Ukraine!
Truth : Monkeypox Outbreak Is Not From Lab Strain Made In Ukraine!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS being created and shared by people on social media, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : There Is No Third Lab Strain
The monkeypox virus has two clades, based on where they were commonly found – Congo Basin (Central Africa), and West Africa.
There is no such thing as a third lab strain or species or clade of the monkeypox virus.
Fact #2 : Strain Is A Subset Of Species
While it is impossible to prove what does not exist (Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy), the claim that there is “a third lab strain” shows that the person creating the fake news does not know the difference between strain, species and clade.
In virology, a clade is technically a group of species that arose from a common ancestor, of which each species may give rise to different strains (sub-species).
If there is a new strain, it would not have been called “a third lab strain”. It would have just been called a new strain.
The introduction of the word “third” implies that the fake news creator believes that clade = strain, which is completely false.
Obviously, the fake news creator does not know much about virology, and is very unlikely to be working at the ECDC.
Fact #3 : 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak From West African Clade
Neither the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC) or other health authorities like the US CDC has announced the discovery of a new strain or clade of the monkeypox virus.
In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated on 21 May 2022, that all cases in the 2022 monkeypox outbreaks have been confirmed to involve the “West African clade“.
Fact #4 : No Evidence Current Virus Was Lab Made
Again, it is impossible to prove what does not exist – that the current monkeypox virus was not made in the lab. However, all the evidence points to a natural source of this virus.
Not only is the 2022 monkeypox virus is from an existing clade, genomic sequencing also indicated that this current virus was a close match of the monkeypox virus that were “exported” from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore in 2018 and 2019.
In other words – all of the evidence so far point us to a natural variant of an existing monkeypox virus that had already caused several outbreaks in the past.
Fact #5 : US Does Not Have Biological Labs In Ukraine
Braddock is repeating the oft-debunked false claim that the US has biological labs in Ukraine.
The truth is – they are Ukrainian biological laboratories, some of which receive financial and other support from the US, the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This is not unique to Ukraine – biological labs in many countries receive similar support from the US, EU and the WHO.
Fact #6 : US Sponsored Biological Threat Reduction In Ukraine
US sponsorship of biological labs in former Soviet Union countries like Ukraine go back decades, and is centred around the Biological Threat Reduction Program.
As the name implies, the program aims to train and equip the partner nation to detect and prevent the threat of infectious diseases, whether they are deliberate, accidental or natural.
Fact #7 : Biological Labs Are Essential To All Countries
Biological labs do not conduct biological warfare research, because that is banned in 183 countries under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
Instead, they are on the forefront of a country’s biosecurity defences, and are absolutely essential in developing tests and cures (including vaccines) for new and emerging diseases, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
In fact, both Russia and China have a number of biological labs, including the famous Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located right at the epicentre of the first COVID-19 outbreak.
It is therefore misleading for anyone to demonise biological labs. After all, they are ESSENTIAL to every country’s national security, including their own.
Fact #8 : There Is No Russian-Chinese Task Force
Braddock claimed that a Russian-Chinese task force was formed to find out where the monkeypox outbreaks originated, or whether it is “detectable in research conducted by the US in Ukraine / Georgia”.
Again, it is impossible to prove what does not exist, but we know that this is a false claim because :
- Braddock offered no evidence for the formation of such a Russian-Chinese task force.
- The 2022 monkeypox outbreak did not affect either Russia or China, so they have no access to any samples.
- The US did not conduct any biological research in Ukraine or Georgia.
- Smallpox is closely related to monkeypox, but is a completely different virus.
A Russian-Chinese joint task force has been tasked with establishing: where it originated, whether it is detectable in research conducted by the US in Ukraine, Georgia; whether there is a link to biological research conducted by the US on smallpox in Ukraine.
Fact #9 : JYNNEOS Was Tested Against Monkeypox
The monkeypox and smallpox viruses are so closely related that the smallpox vaccine has been used for years to protect against monkeypox and other orthopoxviruses.
The earlier ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine has been largely replaced by the JYNNEOS vaccine (also called Imvamune / Imvanex), which was proven to be at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.
In fact, it was licensed in 2019 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox.
And again, the monkeypox virus causing the 2022 outbreak is a close match of the Western Africa clade monkeypox virus that caused the 2018 and 2019 outbreaks.
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