US labs in Nigeria responsible for monkeypox outbreak: Russia
Russia says the US has biological laboratories in three Nigerian cities that have been responsible for spread of monkeypox, urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the “strange coincidence”.
Citing a report by WHO that monkeypox originally spread from Nigeria, Igor Kirillov, chief of the Russian Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, said on Friday that US-deployed biological infrastructure in the African country was responsible for the outbreak.
"According to the available information, at least four US-controlled biolaboratories operate in Nigeria," Sputnik quoted Kirillov as saying, adding that US biolabs were present in the cities of Abuja, Zaria and Lagos.
Kirilov called on the WHO to investigate the alleged US role in spreading monkeypox, noting it is necessary to point out a "strange coincidence that requires additional inspection by specialists."
"According to European and US media, materials of 2021 Munich Security Conference (that is, amid the COVID-19 pandemic) mentioned practice of monkeypox countering scenario," the commander added.
Meanwhile, an interview with RT Arabic on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries have US-funded biolabs, and Moscow is discussing this issue with its neighbors both bilaterally and through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for implementation of biological safety.
"With practically all the CSTO countries and other CIS countries, we have either concluded or are preparing to conclude memorandums of cooperation on biological safety, stipulating for mutual disclosures on how biological programs are developing in each of our countries," Lavrov added.
"These memorandums envisage mutual visits and examinations of the activities of the laboratories," he said, adding that having “transparency” to “make sure that these programs do not have a military dimension” is of paramount importance.
Monkeypox is related to smallpox, a deadly disease that was eradicated in 1980. But monkeypox is much less severe, with a fatality ratio of 3-6%. Most people recover within three to four weeks.
Sylvie Briand, WHO director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, told the UN agency's annual assembly that if the world acted quickly against monkeypox, it can be contained easily.
Needed measures included the early detection and isolation of cases and contact tracing, she added.
So far, nearly 260 confirmed monkeypox cases have been found in 23 countries.