The media space, especially social media platforms, has been inundated with claims that the current spread of monkeypox was linked to at least four United States biological laboratories in Nigeria.
This claim is FALSE.
Here is how the story began:
Three weeks after the first reported case in Europe, the Russian government claimed that the new spread of monkeypox was linked to, at least, four U.S.-controlled biological laboratories in Nigeria.
The report linking Biolabs in Nigeria to the spread of monkeypox was released during a Russian Defense Ministry press briefing by Chief of Russian Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Protection Force, Igor Kirillov.’
Kirillov claimed that the U.S. operated, at least, four biological laboratories in Nigeria and linked the current monkeypox outbreak in Europe to the alleged U.S.-funded Biolabs (U.S.-financed facilities) in Abuja, Zaria, and Lagos.
The collage image accompanying the story included two buildings and three infected monkeypox human body images.
A Nigerian flag was also placed next to the title of the collage image.
We translated the graphics, originally in Russian, using Google Lens. A reverse image search showed us that the lab and equipment were part of the modular BSL-3 laboratory set-up in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, in 2010. In fact, the medical equipment is from Movable BSL-3 containment laboratories delivered to Nigeria in 2010 by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme through the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland.
One of the images is the Defense Reference Laboratory in Abuja, which is a collaboration between the United States Department of Defense and Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence via the Walter Reed Program.
Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has denied the Russian government’s claim.
Additionally, the US Embassy through the Information Specialist, Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the US Consulate General Lagos, Mr. Temitayo Famutimi, said reports that the United States was working with Nigeria to spread monkeypox were pure fabrication.
The claim that monkeypox was created in a Nigerian lab is FALSE because there is no evidence that current monkeypox outbreaks result from biological warfare or a leak.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals).