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Secret fort in US must come clean on its work

(Chinadaily.com.cn)    16:57, June 01, 2020

Fort Detrick Biological Base is situated in the US state of Maryland. It was little known to the residents of the state let alone the general public. At least that was the case before many Americans started suffering from an unknown respiratory infectious disease before the outbreak of COVID-19.

Since the outbreak, Fort Detrick has been mentioned more and more frequently.

The reason why the base had come under the spotlight was the unexplained outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease near it several months prior to the epidemic in China. This was covered by the US media. More importantly, last July, Fort Detrick was mysteriously closed, and the US government has so far been unwilling to explain the sudden closure.

Questions have been asked in the United States, and calls for clarification on a possible link between the closure of Fort Detrick and an outbreak of "large-scale influenza" and COVID-19 are getting louder.

A screenshot of the White House petition website.

On March 10, a netizen named B.Z. launched a petition on the White House petition website. The petitioner listed the timeline related to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Fort Detrick, hoping that the US government would give a reasonable explanation:

7/2019: The top secret US army's medical research institute of infectious diseases at Fort Detrick was closed;

8/2019: A large-scale outbreak of "influenza" killed more than 10,000 people;

10/2019: The United States organized Event 201 — A Global Pandemic Exercise with the participation of the Deputy Director of CIA;

11/2019: An outbreak of pneumonia of undetermined origin was found in China;

2/2020: The epidemic became global;

3/2020: A large number of English-language news reports about the closure of Fort Detrick were deleted from online access.

What makes things even more puzzling is the Event 201, a Global Pandemic Exercise, mentioned in the timeline above. This exercise, organized in October, 2019, has attracted continued international attention for the similarities between its scenario and the development of today's pandemic.

According to the official website of "Event 201", the exercise was to simulate an outbreak of a novel zoonotic transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are modeled largely on SARS, but it is more transmissible.

What's so "fishy" after all

The US media bluntly described Fort Detrick as a cutting-edge lab. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was the center of the US government's darkest experiments.

Allen Dulles, who ran the CIA's covert-operations directorate and would soon be promoted to direct the agency, envisioned and established a mind-control project.

This is said to be the prototype of what would later become the CIA's infamous "mind control" (MK-ULTRA) program. In 1951, Dulles hired chemist Sydney Gottlieb to design and oversee a systematic search for the key to mind control.

MK-ULTRA ended in failure in the early 1960s. Nonetheless Fort Detrick, as it was renamed in 1956, remained Gottlieb's chemical base. After the end of MK-ULTRA, he used it to develop and store the CIA's arsenal of poisons. In his freezers, he kept biological agents that could cause disease, including smallpox, tuberculosis and anthrax as well as a number of organic toxins, including snake venom and paralytic shellfish poison.

In 1970, US President Richard Nixon ordered all government agencies to destroy their supplies of biological toxins. Army scientists complied. But saxitoxin — enough to kill 55,000 people was discovered and only destroyed in 1975.

More than 100 residents near the base developed cancer

Just when everyone thought that this dark history was a thing of the past, in 2011, an ABC report sparked renewed attention.

More than 100 residents suffered from fatal cancer near the fort, according to US media reports.

A term not often used in everyday life — deadly cancer cluster, appeared in the ABC report.

Such an important base is suddenly closed

Eight years later, the base was in the news again.

In July 2019, Fort Detrick was suddenly closed, but the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) refused to release critical information for "national security reasons".

According to the The New York Times, the government suspended military research at the frontier biological defense center due to the handling of hazardous materials. It is reported that the suspended study involved a total of 67 "selective agents" and toxins, such as microorganisms that cause Ebola, smallpox, anthrax and plague, as well as organisms that cause ricin.

According to RT TV, the CDC highlighted problems in the wastewater system.

Data from CDC

Bio-base and "vaping illness"

Shortly after the Fort Detrick base was closed in July 2019, an inexplicable "vaping illness" broke out in the surrounding area in August 2019. Vaping illness is a lung ailment more commonly associated with the e-cigarette or vaping products.

Maryland Secretary of Health Robert R. Neall issued a new mandate on Oct 3 for doctors after 23 lung-related illnesses were linked to vaping in the state. The number should only include voluntarily-made reports.

The symptoms and prevalence of e-cigarette patients have sparked a heated debate in the US. A doctor even went so far as to say that something was very wrong.

Patients, mostly otherwise healthy and in their late teens and 20s, are showing up with severe shortness of breath, often after suffering for several days with vomiting, fever and fatigue. Some have wound up in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks.

On Oct 2, 2019, the New York Times detailed cases of vaping illness in a separate story.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic examined samples of lung tissue from 17 patients, all of which looked as if the people had been exposed to toxic chemicals, the researchers said.

Local unexplained influenza

According to an ABC report on July 12, 2019, a deadly disease broke out at the Greenspring, retirement community in Springfield, Virginia.

The community is only an hour's drive from Fort Detrick base. Some people suspected that the outbreak in the community last year was actually the novel coronavirus, but the reporter who reported the news denied this claim, saying that the local health department's test conclusion was caused by Haemophilus influenzae. However, many netizens recommend testing the community members to see if they had the novel coronavirus antibody.

According to the Fairfax County Health Bureau, on June 30, 2019, the community discovered the case of this unexplained respiratory disease for the first time. As of July 15, 2019, the number of deaths related to the disease in the community rose to 3, a total of 63 community residents were sick, and 19 staff members also showed symptoms.

It was reported that the patient's symptoms include "fever, cough, body pain, wheezing, hoarse voice, and general weakness", and some patients also have symptoms of pneumonia.

To this day, the origin of COVID-19 remains unidentified. But experts and scientists around the world agree that the place where the earliest cases were reported is not necessarily the origin of the virus.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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