military lab, Yekaterinburg, 1979, ...

A Morning Read

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

In 1979, dozens of people died in the Soviet city now known as Yekaterinburg after airborne anthrax bacteria emerged from a military lab. Above, a mural showing doctors attending to children outside a clinic in the city.

Leading American scientists backed the Soviets’ claim that the pathogen had originated from animals, until decades later, when a full-fledged investigation confirmed that the accident was a lab leak, one of the deadliest ever documented. Now, as scientists search for the origins of Covid-19, the story of the Soviet accident that took at least 66 lives, and the cover-up that concealed it, has renewed relevance.