The monkeypox outbreak currently springing up in countries around the world appears to originate from a “lab strain”, a source at the European Centers For Disease Control reportedly revealed.
Independent investigator Dr. Benjamin Braddock claimed on Twitter that an unnamed source at the ECDC told him that preliminary analysis of the monkeypox found the virus came from a lab and may be related to the U.S’s biological research in Ukraine.
“ECDC source tells me that the preliminary analysis of monkeypox indicates that it is ‘a third lab strain with unknown characteristics’ and that there is chatter about this being somehow related to Moscow’s charges against U.S. biological activities in Ukraine,” Braddock tweeted Saturday.
Additionally, a Russian-Chinese joint task force has reportedly launched an investigation into “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,” he added.
In the face of the rising monkeypox cases in the U.S. and Europe, the ECDC source reportedly claims the agency is intent on purchasing smallpox vaccines (Imvanex) from biotech company Bavarian Nordic, even though they haven’t been tested on this particular strain of monkeypox.
“Main ECDC focus right now is on buying up as much of BN’s vaccine as possible. ‘They’re buying before they know whether it is even effective against this strain of monkeypox. I wouldn’t be surprised if they skipped testing it’s efficacy altogether,’” Braddock tweeted.
Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the World Health Organization warned Ukrainian authorities to destroy any high-threat pathogens being researched in biolabs to prevent “any potential spills” into the public.
Russia’s Parliamentary Commission on Investigation of US Biological Laboratories in Ukraine on Friday accused the US of conducting illegal research on smallpox and Ebola at clandestine biolabs in Ukraine.
“Today, we presented an analysis of which pathogens the US was particularly interested in in Ukraine,” Irina Yarovaya, co-chair of the committee, told reporters Friday. “Aside from the pathogens that are territorially bound to Ukraine, [the laboratories] researched viruses and pathogens that are endemically very far from Ukraine, such as Ebola and smallpox.”
Prior to this recent outbreak, monkeypox cases were only documented in central and West African countries, baffling experts over the monkeypox cases quickly popping up in North America and Europe in recent weeks.
“I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several WHO advisory boards.
“This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.
Curiously, the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) recently purchased 13 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneo smallpox/monkeypox vaccine, but the Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement claiming the large order has nothing to do with the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
“The most recent BARDA purchase of smallpox vaccine was part of a standard and ongoing preparedness efforts and unrelated to specific events,” an HHS spokesperson told Axios on Friday.
“BARDA has worked with industry to develop and purchase vaccines and treatments for a potential smallpox emergency, some of which may also be used to respond to monkeypox,” the spokesperson added.
Notably, there have been no naturally-occurring cases of smallpox in the US since the virus was eradicated in 1980.
Why would the U.S. government feel compelled to buy a shipment of smallpox/monkeypox vaccines, especially right now?