FAKE: The activities of bio-laboratories led to an outbreak of African swine fever in Ukraine

FAKE: The activities of bio-laboratories led to an outbreak of African swine fever in Ukraine

22 August 2022

Verification within Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program

russia’s collaborators in the Zaporizhzhia region spread information about outbreaks of African swine fever and an increase in the number of thyroid diseases in Ukraine, reportedly having to do with the activities of bio-laboratories.

However, this is not true. The activity of any laboratories in Ukraine is not related to the dynamics of the incidence of African swine fever or people’s problems with the thyroid gland.

VoxCheck has repeatedly debunked russian fake news about “US bio-laboratories in Ukraine.” Ukrainian laboratories cooperate with the United States under the US Biological Threat Reduction Program to modernize laboratories, achieve a higher level of biosafety, conduct research projects, and improve epidemiological surveillance. These labs have never been involved in the development of biological or any other weapons.

African swine fever

Today, there is no large-scale outbreak of African swine fever in Ukraine. In 2022, cases were registered among animals in the Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv, Kirovohrad, and Sumy regions. In June and July 2022, new cases were recorded only in the Sumy and Kirovohrad regions.

Statistics from 2012 (when first recorded in Ukraine) show that disease outbreaks in the first seven months of 2022 are not record-breaking:

  • 2012: 1 case;
  • 2013: 0 cases;
  • 2014: 16 cases;
  • 2015: 40 cases;
  • 2016: 91 cases;
  • 2017: 163 cases;
  • 2018: 145 cases;
  • 2019: 53 cases;
  • 2020: 28 cases;
  • 2021: 16 cases;
  • 2022: 6 cases.

The African swine fever virus is not transmitted to humans and is safe for human health; only domestic and wild pigs are affected by this disease.

This virus was first identified in the early 1900s in East Africa. Feral pigs and Argas ticks may be the primary source of this infection. New cases are periodically registered in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions.

Therefore, the emergence and spread of African swine fever are in no way related to the activities of laboratories in Ukraine or any other country.

The disease of the thyroid gland

There is no publicly available data on the number of thyroid disease cases among Ukrainians in 2022. The Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine last reported the number of cases in May 2020. Then, the Center said the number of thyroid gland diseases had increased five times over the past five years.

This indicator depends on the external environment, iodine deficiency, lifestyle, stress, nutrition (in particular, a sufficient amount of iodine-containing products in the diet), and concomitant diseases. The Center also said the high risk of having problems with the thyroid gland is inherited. To prevent illness, the Ministry of Health recommends consuming enough iodine-containing products, eating a healthy diet, and undergoing regular preventive examinations.


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