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US military dismisses ‘fake news’ that Bangkok lab was origin of Covid

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The US military has slammed as fake news online rumours that its medical mission in Thailand leaked the virus that triggered the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Recent allegations have used fake and manipulated documents to smear this research institution and the several hundreds of dedicated and professional Thai and American scientists who work here,” said a statement issued on Wednesday by the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), which is based in Bangkok.

“Over the past 60 years, the United States Army and the Royal Thai Army have worked shoulder to shoulder at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in the battle against tropical diseases, said the statement, which was signed by Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Carter, US deputy director of AFRIMS.

“The work done here has saved hundreds of millions of lives in Thailand and across the world,” it added. “And, most importantly, our gold standard laboratory facilities are safe.”

Carter said research at AFRIMS is wholly focused on defeating diseases endemic to Thailand and Southeast Asia, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika, Japanese encephalitis, and HIV.

AFRIMS is currently supporting the development of the Chulalongkorn mRNA vaccine, he added.

“In everything we do, AFRIMS follows all relevant Thai and US laws to maintain the highest standards of proper laboratory conditions. As a result, AFRIMS is one of the safest laboratories in the world.”

The US Embassy in Bangkok describes AFRIMS as “the largest of a global network of US Defense Department Overseas Medical Research Laboratories – with sister laboratories in Peru, Kenya, Egypt, and the Republics of Georgia and Singapore”.

Published : August 18, 2021

By : The Nation