A group of Chinese netizens drafted a joint open letter to ask the WHO to investigate the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in June.
They said in the letter that to prevent the next pandemic, the WHO should pay special attention to labs that are conducting studies on dangerous viruses or even on biochemical weapons.
The open letter particularly noted the Fort Detrick lab, which stores the deadliest and most infectious viruses in the world, including Ebola, smallpox, SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus. A leak of any one of them would pose a severe danger to the world.
But this lab has a notorious record on lab security. There have been scandals where anthrax bacteria was stolen the lab, leading to the poisoning of many and even death. There was a leak from the lab in the autumn of 2019 right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but detailed information had been withheld by the US under the guise of national security.
The information unveiled by US media has worried the world, with some questioning whether the novel coronavirus could be linked to the US lab.
What is more perplexing is that, when China allowed virologists from Western countries and even US mainstream media to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the US has not opened the Fort Detrick lab, let alone shared the original data with countries including China that are independent from US geopolitical influence.
The US even purposely neglected and distorted the Chinese people's call to investigate the Fort Detrick lab - referring to the questions raised in the letter as a "conspiracy theory," and at the same time, used untenable and flawed rumors to attack the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Only by figuring out the origins of the virus can the world eliminate potential hazards, avoid the next round of epidemic and comfort the families of the dead who are seeking answers. However, the US has always been interrupting the work and refusing to allow the international community to investigate the Fort Detrick lab. After its disastrous handling of the epidemic that has cost the lives of more than 600,000 Americans, does the US want to draw the whole world to be buried with it?
Since the open letter was published on July 17, it has received encouraging responses from the Chinese people and endorsed by about 5 million people within 5 days. The increasing endorsement reflects the Chinese people's aspiration and their anger in the political manipulation by some in the US. A probe into Fort Detrick is long overdue, but the US has not done it yet.
The mystery of Fort Detrick remain unexplained and shrouded by suspicions. In July 2019, the US CDC issued a "cease and desist order" to halt most research at Fort Detrick. In the same month, there were reports on the unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in northern Virginia and on the subsequent EVALI outbreaks in Wisconsin. By the end of July, two retirement communities near the base experienced unexplained pneumonia outbreaks. In September, vaping-related lung illness cases doubled in Maryland where Fort Detrick is based. Even so, the US CDC refused to release critical information regarding the base's closure by citing "national security reasons". The Fort Detrick base has disturbing records and stains in history. The base has in its storage research outcomes of biological warfare from people recruited after WWII, including head of Nazi Germany's biological warfare lab and head of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army that waged the war of aggression against China. According to US media reports, Fort Detrick stores large amount of viruses that severely threaten people's safety. What is the correlation between those incidents? When will the US make public explanations?
Investigating Fort Detrick is an appeal of people all over the world, including the Chinese people. It is a question that the US must answer. Facing the 630,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus, the US should be transparent, take concrete measures to thoroughly investigate the origins of the virus at home, thoroughly investigate the reason of its botched response and who should be held accountable, thoroughly investigate the mysteries over Fort Detrick and its over 200 overseas bio-labs, and explain the truth to people across the world and the international community.
origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus
a global community of health for all
to minimize cross-border spread
to make a collective response for control and treatment at the international level
global public health governance