Ukraine risks disease spread if health labs pathogens are not destroyed to prevent potential spills in the case of attacks on public health laboratories, the World Health Organisation has advised.
The risk will not be applicable to only Ukraine but also surrounding European countries should such pathogens find themselves in the open.
According to biosecurity experts, Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.
- This follows claims by Russia that the United States operates a biowarfare lab in Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, repeated the longstanding claim that the United States operates a biowarfare lab in Ukraine, an accusation that has been repeatedly denied by Washington and Kyiv.
- Ukraine, just as many other countries, has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, COVID-19.
Speaking to Reuters, the WHO expressed that the agency has collaborated with the Ukrainian public health labs to ensure security practices and prevent the accidental or deliberate release of pathogens for years.
- “As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” the WHO, a United Nations agency, said.
- Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zakharova said that documents unearthed by Russian forces in Ukraine showed “an emergency attempt to erase evidence of military biological programmes” by destroying lab samples.
Responding to the allegations, a Ukrainian presidential spokesperson said: “Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation.” Also, the U.S. government spokespeople also strongly denied Zakharova’s accusations, saying that Russia may use its claims as a pretext to deploy its own chemical or biological weapons.