False: COVID-19 originated at Fort Detrick, a United States army base.

By: Sam Doak
March 14 2023

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False: COVID-19 originated at Fort Detrick, a United States army base.


The Verdict False

This is a long-standing conspiracy theory with no factual basis.

Claim ID d9116c6d


On March 12, 2023, British MP Andrew Bridgen posted a series of tweets concerning COVID-19 and vaccines. Bridgen, who has served as MP for North West Leicestershire since 2010, told his followers, "I can confirm that during my visit to Washington DC last Christmas/ New Year I was informed that the U.S. DoD were responsible for both the virus and the vaccines. Fort Detrick was named. Also a facility in Canada."

Bridgen followed this statement with a second tweet outlining his belief that those involved in this alleged plot are likely to be apprehended in the near future. It reads, "by the end of the month, I expect to see the start of criminal proceedings against the many politicians and officials who are responsible around the world."

A few hours after posting his initial tweets, Bridgen followed up on his claims with a screenshot from the Wikipedia page concerning Fort Detrick. The section shown reads, "In August 2019, its deadly germ research operations were shut down following serious safety violations, in particular relating to the disposal of dangerous materials." 

In Fact

Andrew Bridgen's allegations concerning Fort Detrick are based on longstanding conspiracy theories concerning the facility. According to public information published by the U.S. Army, Fort Detrick housed research facilities dedicated to the country's biological warfare programs for decades. While the development of biological weapons was officially halted in 1969, research related to defense and protection from biological threats has continued at the site. According to an article published by the BBC, by 2021, its primary function was to house "biomedical labs researching viruses including Ebola and smallpox."

The claim that COVID-19 originated at Fort Detrick surfaced in 2020 and came to prominence partly due to the efforts of Chinese diplomats and state-aligned media. In February 2021, social analytics firm Graphika released a report detailing a network of inauthentic social media accounts across various platforms that played a key role in amplifying conspiracy theories relating to Fort Detrick and COVID-19.  

Narratives relating to Fort Deitrick and COVID-19 have varied, and Bridgen's claim is relatively vague. There is, however, no evidence that the virus originated at Fort Detrick or anywhere else in the United States. The emergence of COVID-19 is well documented, and it is widely recognized by mainstream outlets, health bodies, and governments that the first cases were recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.   

It is unknown who, if anyone, informed Bridgen that politicians and officials are due to be arrested for their actions during the pandemic. Regardless, no evidence supports this claim. Bridgen has repeatedly shared false information concerning COVID-19 vaccines in recent months, and has falsely claimed that mRNA vaccines are "gene therapy" and that pregnant women have been advised to abstain from vaccination.  

The Verdict 

There is no evidence to support Andrew Bridgen's claims. Allegations concerning Fort Deitrick and COVID-19 have circulated since 2020, but they have never been substantiated. All available evidence supports the established narrative that the virus emerged in China. This claim has therefore been marked as false.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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