Coronavirus outbreak is an opportunity to end all bioweapon programs

The emergence of Coronavirus has sparked a fresh controversy over biological warfare programs being run clandestinely by some countries and the need to put an end to them

The United States recently filed a class-action lawsuit worth $20 trillion against China claiming that Coronavirus is a bioweapon that the latter has designed to kill populations en masse. But, in the absence of any conclusive evidence, the claims still remain speculation.

The origin of the controversy

The ongoing controversy around coronavirus being a bioweapon began with US senator Tom Cotton alleging that the virus was created in Wuhan laboratory, which have been given credence by the statement made by Dr Francis Boyle–the creator of Biological Weapons Anti-terrorism Act and a professor of International Law. Dr Boyle has agreed that the Coronavirus is a biological warfare weapon or dual-use biowarfare weapons agent with DNA-genetic engineering. On the other hand are experts like Professor Richard Ebright, a biosecurity expert and a professor at Rutgers University’s Waksman Institute of Microbiology, who disagree and call it mere speculation.

What exactly is a biological warfare weapon?

That brings us to the question of what afterall a biological warfare weapon is. Also called a germ weapon, it is a biological threat that is deliberately released to cause a number of diseases. Biological warfare agents differ in their potency, length of incubation, lethality, and the ability to be treated with medicines. A biological weapon costs much lesser than a nuclear weapon but can be much more lethal.

Bioweapons have been used for long

One of the earliest recorded use of bioweapons as agents of a mass killing of the human population dates back to 1347. The Mongol forces had unleashed the Black Death pandemic that killed about 25 million people.

Biological weapons were also used in World War I, where Germany infected horses (glanders) and cattles of enemy troops, especially the US. The Germans also tried to weaken Russian resistance by trying to spread plague in St. Petersburg. In World War II, Japan used infectious agents for bubonic plague, anthrax, yellow fever, typhus and many other diseases.

In the cold war era–post the two world wars–many countries commissioned large scale research and development programs for biological weapons. Existing deadly bioweapons were made more lethal and a range of dangerous infection agents were created. Anthrax, botulinum toxin (causes botulism), variola major (causes smallpox), yersinia pestis (causes pneumonic plague), and ebola virus are just a few infection agents that have emerged as result of global bioweapons programs and used as bioweapons. It was not until 1975 that these countries stopped their bioweapons programs after the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was enforced.

Clandestine programs still continue

That said, it is not difficult to hide biological weapon research and development under the guise of vaccines or pharmaceutical plants. And in the absence of adequate inspection procedures under the BWC, it is possible to continue with a biological weapons program and cheat other countries. This is one of the key reasons why there is not enough information or evidence of ongoing biological weapons programs around the world.

Time to put an absolute end to bioweapons

The emergence of Coronavirus has sparked fresh controversy over biological warfare programs being run clandestinely by some countries. With millions of human lives lost to the current pandemic, perhaps it is the perfect opportunity to uncover such programs being run around the world and put an absolute end to them.

The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant

She can be reached on LinkedIn.


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