An intelligence panel investigating the cause of a spate of mysterious incidents that have struck dozens of US officials across the globe has said that some of the episodes could “plausibly” have been caused by “pulsed electromagnetic energy” emitted by an external source, according to an executive summary of the panel’s findings released Wednesday. CNN reports: But the panel stopped short of making a definitive determination, saying only that both electromagnetic energy and, in limited circumstances, ultrasound could explain the key symptoms — highlighting the degree to which the murky illness known colloquially as “Havana Syndrome” has remained one of the intelligence community’s most stubborn mysteries. “We’ve learned a lot,” an intelligence official familiar with the panel’s work told reporters, speaking on anonymity under terms set by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “While we don’t have the specific mechanism for each case, what we do know is if you report quickly and promptly get medical care, most people are getting well.”
The scientific panel emphasized that the cases it studied were “genuine and compelling,” noting that some incidents have affected multiple people in the same space and clinical samples from a few victims have shown signs of “cellular injury to the nervous system.” An executive summary of the panel’s work provided new details about how the government is categorizing cases as possible Havana Syndrome, a clinically vague illness that has long frustrated firm diagnosis because victims have suffered from such a diverse array of symptoms. Although officials declined to say how many cases the panel examined as part of its inquiry, they said they studied cases that met four “core characteristics”: the acute onset of sounds or pressure, sometimes in only one ear or on one side of the head; simultaneous symptoms of vertigo, loss of balance and ear pain; “a strong sense of locality or directionality”; and the absence of any known environmental or medical conditions that could have caused the other symptoms.
Both pulsed electromagnetic energy, “particularly in the radiofrequency range,” and ultrasonic arrays could feasibly cause the four core symptoms, the panel found. Both could originate from “a concealable source.” But ultrasound can’t travel through walls, the panel found, “restricting its applicability to scenarios in which the source is near the target.”
Sources of radiofrequency energy, on the other hand, are known to exist, “could generate the required stimulus, are concealable, and have moderate power requirements,” the panel said. “Using nonstandard antennas and techniques, the signals could be propagated with low loss through air for tens to hundreds of meters, and with some loss, through most building materials.” But intelligence officials familiar with the panel’s work emphasized that important information gaps remained, forestalling them from reaching firmer conclusions. The experts panel also ruled out so-called psycho-social factors. They also ruled out “ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound, ultrasound propagated over large distances, and bulk heating from electromagnetic energy.”
“The panel made seven recommendations, including developing better biomarkers that are ‘more specific and more sensitive for diagnosis and triage’ of cases,” reports CNN. “It also recommended utilizing ‘detectors’ and obtaining ‘devices to aid research.’ Finally, officials urged swift action by medical officials whenever a case is reported, emphasizing that individuals who have been treated immediately after an event have improved.”
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