Northern Italy, coronavirus, and U.S. military bases: Just a coincidence?
Keith Lamb
Military personnel stand guard outside the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, U.S., September 26, 2002. /CFP

Military personnel stand guard outside the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, U.S., September 26, 2002. /CFP

Editor's note: Keith Lamb is a University of Oxford graduate with an MSc degree in Contemporary Chinese Studies. His primary research interests are China's international relations and "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The results from a scientific study released in November 2020 suggest that the coronavirus was spreading in Italy months before it was detected in Wuhan. A peer-reviewed study, funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) and the Italian Ministry of Health, checked blood samples taken from cancer patients, as early as September 2019 and found that more than one in ten of the sample had coronavirus antibodies.

As such, the results strongly suggest that coronavirus was spreading in Italy, months before September 2019. Indeed because of the rapid spread of the virus, in Italy, it was surmised that the coronavirus had to have been spreading, in an asymptomatic form well before any infected travelers from China arrived in Italy.

The distribution of blood samples with positive screening was found primarily in northern Italy. Of course, it was the Lombardy region and the Veneto region that first experienced lockdowns. However, the first detected cases of the coronavirus, from Chinese travelers, were found, in January, in Rome.

Thus, if the virus came from China one would imagine that central Italy would be the first to be locked down. In addition, the first Italian laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 was on February 20, 2020, in a person with no history of possible contact with positive cases in Italy or abroad.

Coincidently, northern Italy hosts a cluster of three U.S. military bases. Caserma Ederle Army Base in Vicenza is in the heart of the Veneto Region, which borders Lombardy, and Aviano Air Base straddles the Veneto border. Camp Darby Army Base in Tirrenia is north of Tuscany to the south of Lombardy.

Having a cluster of U.S. military bases in the heart of the Italian COVID-19 epicenter adds more fuel to the fire of the Fort Detrick claims. Fort Detrick, in Maryland, is home to the Bio-Defense Agency. In July 2019 one of the most prominent high-security labs inside the base was shut down, due to safety violations.

Around the same time, there were numerous reports of people dying from an unidentified respiratory illness near the base. By September reports from the U.S. described the "mysterious lung illness" as being tied to vaping.

However, how can they be sure it is from vaping? In fact, all the news reports confirm that they really didn't know what was going on. The inference, then, is that vaping deaths were used as a cover for the coronavirus and COVID-19, or as a way to give an explanation to something doctors didn't understand.

The scientific study in Italy was carried out because the sheer volume of cases meant the coronavirus had to be in Italy long before it was detected in Wuhan. The U.S., of course, also has had enormous numbers of coronavirus infections. This might also lead one to question whether the virus was also circulating in the U.S. before the first identified case on January 19, 2020.

A map showing the location of U.S. military bases and COVID-19 cases distribution in northern Italy.

A map showing the location of U.S. military bases and COVID-19 cases distribution in northern Italy.

The answer is yes. Research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in June 2021 shows that, just as in Italy, archived blood samples which were collected from the American Red Cross, from 13 December 2019 to 17 January 2020, had anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

If the coronavirus did originally come from a U.S. military base, how is it that it was first detected in Wuhan and now scientific evidence points to coronavirus being in Italy before Wuhan? Firstly, China due to its experience with SARS is hyper-sensitive to infectious diseases being spread. This means China's detection efficiency, just like its COVID-19 response, is likely to be higher than elsewhere.

However, both Wuhan and northern Italy have a strong link to the U.S. military. In Wuhan's case, it was the host of the 2019 Military Games. This meant nearly 300 members of the U.S. military attended the games and thus it is possible that the "vaping illness" was spread this way. 

The "American Prospect" reports that flights took U.S. athletes to Wuhan via Seattle, Washington, which was one of the earliest states to show a spike in coronavirus. Furthermore, numerous athletes who participated in the games reported coronavirus symptoms after attending the games. The same report concludes that U.S. military bases had high coronavirus incidences.

In terms of the outbreak in Europe starting in northern Italy, it seems too coincidental that it is at the location of a cluster of U.S. military bases. There would have been extensive travel to and from various other bases. For our purposes, we need to know what contact these bases had with personnel that had been in Fort Detrick and the events at Fort Detrick need more investigation.

Certainly, we can't jump to conclusions but at the very least we must keep an open mind. This is especially the case considering the U.S. has a history of sleight of hand, cover-ups, and misdirecting its citizens' gaze onto foreign "wrongdoers." The "China-virus," in light of the Fort Detrick controversy, may yet prove to be another piece of imperial misdirecting.

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