USAMRIID

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

Where the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 first originated is a question on many minds, from officials in the United States and other countries to epidemiologists looking to track the virus that resulted in the current pandemic.

The question has led to China and the United States trading barbs. Ask President Donald Trump, and he’ll probably say SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in China where the first cases of COVID-19 appeared. He and other U.S. officials claim that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, according to the Associated Press. World Health Organization emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan, quoted in the article, said the claim is speculative.

But ask Chinese officials and some Chinese scientists, their answer will hit closer to home.

For months now, even before Maryland and Frederick County announced its first cases of the respiratory disease, Chinese officials have suggested that the coronavirus was created at Fort Detrick.

The first conspiracy claim was that soldiers who trained near Fort Detrick brought the disease with them during the World Military Games in October. But that is not true, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s rumor control website.

In responding to questions about the claim, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said it is “completely ridiculous and it’s irresponsible” that someone from the Chinese government would make such a claim.

Esper and other administration officials “repeatedly denounced the Chinese government’s efforts to deflect responsibility for downplaying the threat early on, as well as its lack of transparency during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, as being irresponsible and unhelpful with combating the pandemic the world is facing today,” according to the site.

But now the conspiracy theorists and Chinese officials have turned their attention to another target: the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases on Fort Detrick.

The conspiracy specifically points to the shutdown of biosafety level 3 and 4 work at USAMRIID by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July 2019, suggesting that the laboratory was responsible for the virus.

“That is an absolutely false claim,” U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command spokeswoman Lori Salvatore wrote in an email to The News-Post. “USAMRIID does not take part in offensive research.”

Fort Detrick lab shut down after failed safety inspection; all research halted indefinitely

USAMRIID is the Army’s biological defense laboratory, which studies high-level pathogens, like Ebola. Its mission is to protect U.S. soldiers serving both here and abroad.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted out a link to an article on Global Research, a Canadian website that often promotes conspiracies, including those against the United States. The link Zhao shared suggests that virus may have come from Fort Detrick. The Global Research link has since been deleted.

According to an article in Global Times, a Chinese media organization, others, such as Jin Canrong, an associate dean at Renmin University of China’s School of International Studies, have questioned the USAMRIID shutdown, the rise of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) and an early flu season. An article published in the Chinese propaganda site People’s Daily lists 10 questions that the U.S. should answer, with the third question asking what happened at USAMRIID.

One conspiracy suggested people fled from Frederick when the lab reopened. That is not true. While some in the Frederick community expressed displeasure at the laboratory’s reopening, people did not flee.

Other conspiracies suggest that Frederick County has more cases because of the proximity to Fort Detrick. This is also not true. The rumors spread about USAMRIID and COVID-19 are not limited to Chinese media and officials. The Manila Times in the Philippines has also included multiple opinion pieces suggesting the virus was created by USAMRIID, as have other sites, including Reddit.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Frederick County had 1,114 cases of COVID-19. Prince George’s County has the largest number of cases in Maryland at 7,831. Montgomery County follows with 5,541 cases.

Frederick County’s first case of COVID-19 was announced March 16.

USAMRIID timeline

On July 15, the CDC sent USAMRIID a cease and desist letter and suspended its registration in the Federal Select Agent Program following a June inspection by the health agency.

At the time of the shutdown, USAMRIID researchers were working on the Ebola virus and the agents that cause tularemia, the Plague and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, the News-Post previously reported. No infectious pathogens were found outside of the authorized areas at USAMRIID, according to the News-Post article.

Inspection reports obtained by the News-Post found there were two breaches that led to the shutdown. What the two breaches resulted in was redacted. However, Col. E. Darrin Cox told the News-Post breach was a “loaded” word and said there was no exposure as a result of the breaches.

When those breaches were discovered, the former USAMRIID commander ordered a stop to high-level research. That voluntary halt came before the official cease and desist order from the CDC.

In addition to the breaches, there were five other departures from federal regulations found during the CDC inspection, according to the report. This included systematic failures to implement biosafety and containment procedures, such as someone propping open the door to the autoclave room while removing bio-waste.

“They weren’t doing it to openly flout the rules,” Cox previously told the News-Post. “They were doing it for a reason that they thought was reasonable. But I mean, it still was not in compliance with [standard operating procedures].”

One of the concerns was the effluent decontamination system USAMRIID had been using since its thermal decontamination system was damaged by flooding.

The laboratory has since addressed problems with its decontamination system and was allowed to return to full operations at the end of March, which included having its Federal Select Agent Program registration restored.

“USAMRIID retrained its laboratory personnel and established a new thermal decontamination system, which was inspected and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November 2019,” Salvatore said in her email.

USAMRIID is currently working on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including working on replication and purification of the virus for future testing. USAMRIID is also screening multiple small molecule therapeutics, which can help lead to a possible treatment, according to a Facebook post from USAMRDC.

The laboratory also received antibodies from someone with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS is caused by virus SARS-CoV, which is genetically similar to the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibodies will be studied to see how they can respond to SARS-CoV-2, according to USAMRDC’s post.

USAMRIID also was part of the early research on what is now remdesivir. The drug was originally targeted for Ebola but is now being tested as a possible treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter:

@HMongilio

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(51) comments

Greg F

Seems like Trump acts a lot like that Murder Hornet....he wants to do in any sense of responsibility and respectability this nation may have left since he got into office.

Brookhawk

It's as good a conspiracy theory as any other - otherwise known as a load of......

Greg F

Yep...obviously enough tin foil still going around for hat-making. I'd bet Trump wants to somehow play the new nasty murder hornet into this as some whacked out theory...I call he does that within the week. He's got to take a new headline and twist it to his favor like they are here to hurt his campaign and then start blaming everyone and trying to LIBERATE us from the Murder Hornet. It's so impractical and implausible I really see him doing it.

g8tkpr4101965

Theres go Heather Mangilio with Her Negative , Panic Inducing Article's again Report the Truth and Facts and a Little Positivity for a Change.

gabrielshorn2013

Where's the negative g8? She debunked conspiracy theories being floated by members of the Chinese government and some conspiracy theory websites.

Good job Heather!

threecents

[thumbup]Gabe

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Anti abortion congressional Rep Harris MD (R) said

“We’re safer if we’re not born,” 🤔

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Like Rev Graham Osama bin laden would want Americans to open the economy and let nature run her course

Frayou

Remember as a kid. Everytime there was a chronic virus or other county wide illness the general population would blame the former bio-war labs at Detrick.

Dwasserba

"While some in the Frederick community expressed displeasure at the laboratory’s reopening, people did not flee." ?? Where would we go

DeplorableLocalVeteran

When Biden wins in Nov he should consider Ivanka ambassador to China and Donald Jr ambassador to Russia.

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Who knows China better than Donald or Ivanka who are both highly invested in communist China?

vodalone

By now anyone with half a brain knows this virus didn't naturally transmit from bats to humans and out to the mass population. This virus which was being worked on by both US and Chinese labs, and it whether escaped on accident on purpose. I'm no conspiracy theorist but as more information about the virus itself comes out and the players involved, there are more and more suspicious things. See the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFPeN17PVU8&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR0ODJzB1nuYnRrv6Cthau_hu_YTiGUwkQ0Q9JxIFhl9COebserjXtElQ0M&app=desktop

Also, just yesterday a researcher in PA who was making significant progress on research of COVID was found dead.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8290203/Mystery-coronavirus-researcher-37-verge-significant-findings-killed-murder-suicide.html

gabrielshorn2013

OK everybody, in addition to masks and gloves, it's time to don those tinfoil hats. Make sure they all fit snugly! [sarcasm]

[beam] [wink]

Oh come on. Zoonotic transmission is not uncommon. There have been many such transmissions in recent history, such as Ebola, AIDS, SARS, Zika. Even the flu had its origins in swine and fowl, but was transmitted to humans. Such transmission can also be aided by a secondary (or transient) vector, such as civets and pangolins.

smh...

vodalone

Not entirely correct. Watch the video, the woman being interviewed is not some tinfoil wearing freak as you suggest, she's a respected doctor and researcher. Coronavirus' live in many animals, namely dogs, how many people you know are constantly kissing their dogs or letting them lick them and are they getting a deadly virus? Coronavirus' themselves are everywhre and we're constantly in contact with them. The theory is the strain of coronavirus was extracted from an animal and researched in a lab where it was most likely altered due to research or maybe to weaponize it.

gabrielshorn2013

”…she's a respected doctor and researcher.”

Oh please vodalone, Judy Mikovits??? She is a well-known darling of the antivaxxer set, and not credible whatsoever. Here is her bio : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Mikovits. Anybody else here that worked at RIID back around 1999 want to chime in? She has had articles pulled from Science for falsifying data. She was also arrested for theft of intellectual property for stealing a cell line that had been inadvertently delivered to her, and refusing to return it. I watched the entire 12:05 “movie” that you referenced. Sorry, but it’s clear that you don’t have a science background. There is just so much misinformation and conspiracy theory bunk in here that yes; she should be wearing a nice, snugly-fitting tinfoil hat. She claims that she couldn’t get Ebola to be infectious until it was made so in the lab. So Ebola is now a man-made bioweapon? She said that countless studies have shown that chloroquine is effective as an antiviral, yet there is no reference. Several studies have shown that administering chloroquine increased the fatality rate. I guess if you consider killing the patient curing them, well yeah. She claims that autism can be cured by Seramin, and because there was a cure for autism, the manufacturers pulled it from the market. Funny thing is I Googled it, and it is widely available in generic form. She asserts that receiving the flu vaccine increases the likelihood of coronavirus infection, yet no reference. Why? Because there isn’t one! And the best one was at 20:50 where she claims that wearing a mask just activates the coronaviruses you already have, leading to disease. Nonsense! Where is the data? Again, there is none! Then there is the “film” producer, elevate from Ojai California. Look them up. They are such a reputable company that the only place you will see their work (other than a few TV commercials) is on YouTube. Wow, that’s credibility I tell ya!

Yes, coronaviruses are all around us, and the majority of them are not pathogenic to their natural hosts, or us. Some coronaviruses cause nothing more than the common cold. Others, like SARS-CoV, cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in humans, and has bats as its host. Another one, MERS-CoV, causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which caused a deadly outbreak in 2014, and has camels as its host. People may get transient infections from the coronavirus in their dog’s saliva, but the transient infection does not cause disease. There are lots of things like that.

threecents

Yah, she has real credentials and appears to have paranoid schizophrenia. It is shameful that Alex Jones and similar conspiracy theorists are using her. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/scientist-vaccine-jailed/

vodalone

Gabriel. Your biased view and blind obedience of mainstream content is clearly obvious. No media piece these days is 100% factual, the information as a whole always has an agenda but you have to be clever enough to sift through that and find the things which matter. You may not agree with her opinions on certain topics, but there is no dispute on who she is, who she worked with, where she worked, etc. The point is even "experts" disagree on things you have already pre-determined to be scared and untouchable. Look at the host of other doctors and researchers in this very video who dispute the models and mitigation procedures being implemented to beat this virus. Sweden as an entire nation has taken a very different approach than us, they chose to listen to someone with an opinion closer to Dr. Mikovits than Dr. Fauci, and so what? Is Sweden some backwards nation like N. Korea? No, many would say it's a model of a nation which should be followed in many respects. The mask thing Dr. Mikovits was referring to didn't make much sense to me either, but I'm not going to dismiss everything coming from her going forward, just like I don't dismiss everything Dr. Fauci says. In the end it's all about $$$ and power, and who comes out on top. Do some research about vaccines after the Spanish Flu. Do some research about the polio vaccine. Who stood to profit the most? How can you ensure maximum participation in an elective vaccine? You scare the living $hit out of people, that's how.

gabrielshorn2013

Wow, lots here. First, no, I have no bias to science. Data talks, BS walks. My continued science knowledge comes from many peer-reviewed journals. Judy Mitkovits was, is, and always will be full of, er…crap. Who she worked with and where she worked is irrelevant, and conveys no credibility to anything she, herself did. She falsified data for chrissakes! And for that her articles were pulled from journals. She stole her employer’s property (cell cultures, computers, and notebooks), and was arrested for it. That eliminates any scientific credibility she had. How many reputable scientists have had their papers retracted for data falsification, and maintained their credibility? None. She is another Andrew Wakefield. Her only career (way of making money) is through association with conspiracy theorists and antivaxxers, so that is her only career path, just like “Dr.” Wakefield. Her scientific career is finished. As for Sweden’s approach to the pandemic, you say it is closer to Mitkovits? How do you know that? Where did she say that? What Sweden chose to do was to allow the natural infection curve to work. Yes, there may be more upfront mortality, but the population and economy recovers faster, according to the theory. The caveat there is that immunity is developed, and herd immunity protects the population after that. It is a risk that Sweden is willing to take. Our government, and most of the US population is not. The concept of “flattening the curve” (what the US and most of the world chose) slows the progression of the disease through distancing. It does not eliminate the probability of infection. The population under each curve is the same size. Flattening allows reduction in infection rates so hospitals don’t get overrun, and allow time for a vaccine to be discovered. Just flattening does not eliminate the chance of you contracting the virus, it just spreads out the time until you get it. Without an effective vaccine, everyone will eventually seroconvert, be symptomatic, or die, in the approximate same ratios as in Sweden To use a popular phrase they “ripped off the Band-Aid” and got it over with. We already know how that works, and it was predicted by several epidemiological models that I referenced here a couple of months ago. Like I said below, the Libertarian in me says go ahead, knock yourself out and return to your life as it was before. Take the risk if you’d wish. It’s your @$$, not mine. Just wear a mask, and stay away from the rest of us. As I also said below, I know a lot about the history of vaccines, and their development. It’s what I did for years. You must have been visiting a lot of the conspiracy theory websites, because your view of the issue is so jaded. My grandmother lost two brothers in 2018 due to the “Spanish Flu”, so yeah, I heard the first-hand stories from her. One was healthy in the morning, but dead that night. Before vaccines, one was more likely to die of communicable disease than old age. Do you think Jonas Salk or Albert Sabin gave a rat’s @$$ about making tons of money on their polio vaccine discoveries? Do you think the dedicated scientists at USAMRIID give a rat’s @$$ about becoming multi-millionaires because of their discoveries? I know lots of them, and they don’t. We all knew that there ain’t a lot of money in research, especially government research. Do you really consider childhood vaccines are “voluntary”? Really? Measles, Mumps, Chickenpox, Rubella and such kill many thousands of kids around the world every year. We’re lucky in the US because of a higher level of compliance. Unfortunately, due to the wacko “antivaxxers”, herd immunity is breaking down in several areas, and these highly preventable diseases have sprung up again. You don’t recall the ‘40s or 50’s and the polio outbreaks that put so many people in “iron lungs” (before ventilators were discovered). I do. There were whole wings of hospitals full of such patients. Gardasil for Human Papilloma Virus prevents cervical cancers in women and oral/throat cancers in males and females. That’s a clinically proven fact. Lemme guess…antivaxxer?

joelp77440

We know that the virus was made the basement of Comet Ping Pong by human trafficking victims. Fox news is never wrong [lol]

Jleftwich

The article speaks about conspiracy theories being widely shared, particularly from fringe sources. There's an awful lot of that occurring during this pandemic. Critical reasoning and relying on science seems to have escaped some people.

jloo

Including you.

prg45fan

WoW! I can't believe you people are actually DEFENDING a Communist Nation against the President of the United States! That is simply unheard of."Mr. Roosevelt, why are you blaming Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor?!" You people are a bunch of freekin' nuts. Trump will landslide your chosen candidate. Have a MAGA day.

threecents

Rikki, Nobody here is defending China. As I said, Trump and China are both supporting fake news.

joelp77440

What comments are you reading?

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Donald and Ivanka both invest heavily in Communist China because they love America. 😂

threecents

Excellent job by the FNP of documenting the ridiculousness of the Chinese conspiracy theory. The virus obviously originated in China, as the first cases were in China and a similar virus was isolated from a bat in China before the epidemic. Other related Coronaviruses have also been found in Chinese bats, and they represent a real threat for future pandemics. US scientists say the virus evolved naturally. Trump does not believe our scientists, so he removed funding for ongoing US research on Chinese bat viruses.

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/trump-admin-cuts-funding-for-bat-research-in-china/?fbclid=IwAR1SqkWxQcKjMldjQVdPYyzmXDKpqTAx0v5JpszVquKwRBEEJ7VHVepig_Q

girlpolitic

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2002-01-21-0201210015-story.html

threecents

GP, Thanks for an unrelated discredited article from 2002 about 1992. Sorry, but you get a gong from me. [offtopic]

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed three. I'll see your gong, and give an extra raspberry. That story was debunked long ago.

public-tertiary

[thumbup]

Reader1954

Trump a non-politician has only been in office 3 1/2 years. How about being upset about the life long politicians that have gotten us into this mess by allowing China to bring this country to a stand still. This virus has shown this country's weakness by allowing our medicines being made in China as well as so much necessary production being made there as well. This is a wake up call to these politicians to stop trying to please everyone but us. Trump is right MAKE AMERICA FIRST

Greg F

Really? We already were at them including lifer McConnell and his drug boats and many others. Were you asleep?

gabrielshorn2013

Drug boats FEd? Please, do tell.

francesca_easa

I second that Reader. It is very concernig how politicians, American businesses and universities have allowed China to have so much influence, production and financial control over the U.S.

morel hunter

That's what the Bible says, "me first".

DickD

Ignoring what is said in this article, it has been resolved that COVID -19 originated in Whu han, China and came to the U.S. from Europe. .Which doesn't necessarily make it true.

The question is exactly what was done at Ft. Detrick and if China is right, how did it get to China first.

Greg F

Bats, Dick....bats. Some if us are well aware of what researchers say.

gabrielshorn2013

Dick, the coronavirus now known as SARS-CoV-2 is from certain bat populations in China. The disease entered the US on two fronts, West (CA, WA) and East (NY). The mutated eastern strain is becoming the predominant strain in the US, and apparently is far more contagious than what originally arrived on the west coast. Ft. Detrick had nothing to do with this disease.

threecents

Yah, the new Duke University study on the mutant virus that Gabe is referring to speculates that immunity to the original virus might not protect well against the mutant, which is a scary prospect.

vodalone

You don't find it at all fishy that every single thing about this virus has become a "scary prospect"? We've been at this for nearly two months and every single piece of information coming out daily is scarier than the last. If it's doom and gloom 24/7/365, I suggest changing your source of news or just ignoring it all together.

threecents

Dude, your response is scarier than the article. It's a well done scientific study. I actually read it, rather than relying on the news articles about it.

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.29.069054v2

gabrielshorn2013

vodalone, that's the thing about a novel agent causing a novel disease. Since it is brand new, we had no idea about all of the symptoms/syndromes it causes, it's exact method of infection, its transmissibility, morbidity, or mortality. Until the disease is passed to humans, we have no idea of exactly what it will do. How long did it take to get a treatment for AIDS? There is still no cure. Polio took years of work (with contributions from right here in FredCo). This disease is only a few months old, and it may take years to find a safe and effective vaccine, if one can be found. The level of caution for such an unknown, and now mutating virus is absolutely appropriate. We have no idea what a second of a slightly mutated version would would cause. See dengue: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/symptoms/index.html

vodalone

gabriel. I like many people have been following this from day one, and I was where you are now about a month ago where it's all doom and gloom everywhere you turn. I don't blame the authorities and officials of reacting they way they did, it's natural when there is a fear of the unknown, and this virus and it's origins are to a large degree unknown still. Researchers however know much more than they are releasing to the public, projections are about as accurate as weather reports, experts such as Fauci were wrong on many things. I recall him about 6 weeks ago saying if you're healthy, go on a cruise. Trump is wrong on basically everything he's said. The point is, there are no experts on this, what is said today is out the window tomorrow. Just live your life cautiously, but relax and have a drink :-)

threecents

Vodalone, Sounds like I over-reacted to your post.[thumbup]

gabrielshorn2013

Don't know what your background is vodalone, but I have been involved with such issues for many, many years, including development of vaccines for "the bad stuff". This is what I do. There are a couple of us here on this forum that have similar backgrounds. That said, we know cannot simply return to life as we knew it, because that life is gone until we develop a safe and effective vaccine...if one can in fact be developed, or once everyone that is susceptible gets infected, with the correlated death rate (millions). There are many "promising candidates", but nothing that has shown to be effective against a virus that we now know has taken a few mutations as it travels through the human population. We still don't know what happens if someone is immunized with "unmutated strain A", but then gets exposed to "mutated strain B", or vice-versa. Is there cross-protection, or is there an amplifying effect? See my reference to Dengue above. If one wishes to put blinders on, and whistle "Que sera, sera", the Libertarian in me says have at it. As for your weather report comparison, no. The epidemiological projections have been fairly accurate in demonstrating what happens with various mitigation options, including no treatment. Read some of the projections from the Imperial College of London. You can also see all of the previous reports from CDC at www.cdc.gov, as well as Johns Hopkins (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html)

DeplorableLocalVeteran

If I was an adversary of America I would do everything in my power to get this man re-elected he’s been just as effective against America as a Civil War or a nuclear attack. His Inadequacies has led to premature deaths, untenable deficits and generational despair he has turned the American Dream into an American Nightmare.

fnpzwack

Have you had your TDS medication yet today?

francesca_easa

Vet, Trump definitely should have had a sense of urgency in February. But neither he or many other world leaders thought it would happen (t)here. How many world leaders have you seen wearing masks on TV? How many countries are just now formulating economic assistance programs for their nations? What help or protocol has WHO provided? Trump needs to apologize that he underestimated this virus. And not speculate on medicine which he knows nothing about. Or incite Reopen rallies. But he has fired on all cylinders to bring the best medical and business leaders together. Given qualifying households $1200. Created a PPP program to help small businesses. Brought in the military to provide hospital ships and create field hospitals. Waived national testing in schools because it is not feasible right now. Has called on banks and universities to defer payments. Has called on business to shift production to make medical supplies.

And after 2 months, we have some good news starting to appear on potential vaccines coming from the U.S. What more would you have him do? Were we prepared for the Dust Bowl, Depression, attacks on Pearl Harbor or 911? No. But maybe there were signs then that were ignored. We are a great country and I am grateful to be living in one of the best nations on earth. I have faith we will recover because I know our spirit. Sometimes the universe throws us challenges to remind us not to take everything for granted.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Francesca!

DeplorableLocalVeteran

He claimed a trade war would be easy to win now he’s whining China has put America on her knees.

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