According to Reuters, the World Health Organization has advised Ukraine to eradicate high-threat viruses stored in the country’s public health laboratories to avoid “any potential leakage” that could spread disease among the people.
Ukraine, like many other countries, has public health laboratories that are looking at ways to lessen the threat of dangerous diseases that affect both animals and humans, most recently COVID-19. Its laboratories have received financing from the United States, the European Union, and the World Health Organization.
According to biosecurity experts, Russia’s deployment of troops into Ukraine and shelling of its towns has increased the possibility of disease-causing microorganisms escaping if any of those institutions is damaged.
In response to Reuters’ questions about its work with Ukraine before and during Russia’s invasion, the WHO said in an email on Thursday that it has been working with Ukrainian public health labs for several years to promote security practices that help prevent “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens.”
“As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and other relevant entities to eliminate high-threat viruses to minimize any potential leakage,” the WHO, a United Nations agency, stated. The WHO refused to identify when it made the request, or what viruses or toxins were held in Ukraine’s laboratory. The agency also did not respond to inquiries regarding whether its suggestions were implemented.
The Ukrainian embassy in Washington and officials in Kyiv did not respond to requests for comment. Since Russia began sending troops into Ukraine two weeks ago, Ukraine’s laboratory capabilities have been at the center of a rising information fight.
On Friday, Russia requested a meeting of the 15-member United Nations Security Council to confirm, without providing evidence, a long-standing claim that Ukraine conducted biological weapons facilities with US Defense Department assistance. additional information
Ukraine and the United States have continually denied the accusation, with senior officials warning that Russia may use it as a justification to deploy chemical or biological weapons.
Izumi Nakamitsu, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reminded the Security Council on Friday that the UN is “not aware” of any biological weapons program in Ukraine, which, like Russia and the United States, has signed an international ban on such weapons.
UN officials have also declared that the WHO is not aware of any activity in Ukraine that would violate international norms, “including on chemical or biological weapons.”
The WHO statement to Reuters specifically cited public health laboratories. According to the EPA, all parties should work together to “safely and securely dispose of any pathogens they come across and to contact out for technical assistance as needed.” It volunteered to provide technical help and cooperation whenever possible.