US Company Metabiota Links Biolabs in Africa and Ukraine to the Pentagon’s DTRA
This is Part 1 of a two-part series.
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It’s now clear that, at a minimum, the US was heavily involved in developing and managing biolabs in Ukraine. Although the US government denies that biological research is taking place, Russia is currently exposing a network of biolabs that began during the Obama-Biden administration.
A deleted article originally posted in 2010 was recovered by The National Pulse which details how then Senator Barack Obama helped negotiate a deal to build a level-3 bio-safety lab in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. A project between the US Department of Defence (“DoD”) and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health focused on “preventing the spread of technologies, pathogens, and knowledge that can be used in the development of biological weapons.” The lab had a permit “to work with both bacteria and viruses of the first and second pathogenic groups.”
So, who runs these labs?
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, a Bulgarian journalist, identified US biotech company Metabiota Inc. in an extremely detailed 2019 article as the main player in the Ukrainian labs. It’s a company that tracks the trajectory of outbreaks and sells pandemic insurance, but also seems to have its hand in the actual labs that, as we painfully learned the past two years, might be the source of some of these outbreaks.
Biowarfare scientists, using diplomatic cover, test man-made viruses at Pentagon biolaboratories in 25 countries across the world, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva wrote in 2018. These US biolaboratories are funded by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (“DTRA”) under a $ 2.1 billion military program – Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (“CBEP”) – and are located in former Soviet Union countries, such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.
DTRA has outsourced much of the work under the military program to private companies, which are not accountable to Congress, and which can operate more freely and move around the rule of law. As Gaytandzhieva identified, one such company is Metabiota.
Metabiota works with partners around the world to push scientific boundaries and develop new knowledge. “We have deep and sustained partnerships with governments, health agencies, academic institutions and private enterprise,” their website states.
Metabiota offers both products and services. The target customers for their products – tools to identify early signals of emerging outbreaks – seem to be those with commercial interests, in particular insurance companies.
This is confirmed in a 2017 promotional video where Metabiota stated: “our disease model library is the largest in the insuretech industry … allowing you to … quantify the impact of an event on your portfolio in dollars and see what drives your losses.”
Metabiota’s services – to provide experience, training, and insights – are aimed at local health authorities, governments and, as we shall see, departments of defence worldwide.
In 2014 Metabiota was awarded $18.4 million federal contracts under the Pentagon’s DTRA program in Georgia and Ukraine for scientific and technical consulting services. Metabiota services include global field-based biological threat research, pathogen discovery, outbreak response and clinical trials.
(Read more: The Pentagon Bio-weapons)
Between 2012 and 2015, Metabiota was contracted by the Pentagon to perform work for DTRA before and during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and was awarded $3.1 million for work in Sierra Leone.
In August 2018, Metabiota announced it had been awarded a subcontract from Black & Veatch (B&V) to support DTRA’s CBEP in Iraq.
Dannielle Blumenthal who is collecting research on biolabs in Ukraine wrote that George Webb, an investigative journalist, suggests that from 2008 to 2017, Black & Veatch and DTRA signed contracts, estimated at $215.6 million on construction and operation of biolabs in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Thailand, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Armenia and that under the program in Georgia and Ukraine, Black & Veatch subcontractor, Metabiota signed $18.4 million federal contract.
Webb tweeted on 10 March: “Black & Veatch’s Odessa facility seems to be the biolab [that] triggered Russia.”
Metabiota in Africa
Metabiota’s Central African headquarters is located in Cameroon “managed under the leadership of local national Experts.” Metabiota has been operating in the region for the past two decades.
Metabiota has been implementing projects across Central Africa since its founding, including over $38.5M in USG grants and contracts executed over the past ten years. Their Cameroon office has long-lasting collaborative agreements with the Cameroon Ministry of Health; Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Livestock and Animal Husbandry; Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection, and Sustainable Development; Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife; and Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation.
Metabiota’s Office Capacity Statements for Cameroon and DRC states that the Army Health Research Center (“CRESAR”):
“Was created in early 2000 as part of a partnership between Metabiota and the Cameroon Ministry of Defence, thanks to funding from the US Military’s HIV Research Program, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Johns Hopkins University, the NIH, the Google Foundation, the Skoll Foundations, the French Research Institute for Development, and the CDC.
“Over the past twenty years, CRESAR has played an important role in assisting the Cameroon government in preparing for, detecting, and responding to key infectious disease outbreaks, including monkeypox, avian influenza, cholera, rabies, and human and animal influenza. Staffed by civilian and military workforce, CRESAR is a molecular biology and serology laboratory (BSL2).”
Metabiota was contracted by the Pentagon to perform work for DTRA before and during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and was awarded $3.1 million during the years 2012-2015 for work in Sierra Leone – one of the countries at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015.
A 17 July 2014 report drafted by the Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Consortium, accused Metabiota of failing to abide by an existing agreement on how to report test results and for bypassing the Sierra Leonean scientists working there. The report also raised the possibility that Metabiota was culturing blood cells at the lab, something the report said was dangerous, as well as misdiagnosing healthy patients. All of those allegations were denied by Metabiota.
However, a 2016 investigation by CBS found that WHO officials believe Metabiota screwed up the Ebola response in Africa and that there was “absolutely no control on what is being done.”
In part 2 we highlight who Metabiota’s investors are and its links to USAID’s PREDICT project, EcoHealth Alliance and Ukraine.