Biowarfare

fybog fybog at NOSPAMhotmail.com
Tue Oct 27 15:31:06 EST 1998


On 26 Oct 1998 14:44:27 GMT, tdlaing at nospam.dres.dnd.ca (T.D. Laing)
wrote:
>
>Actually, the Reston variant of Ebola virus, which affected a monkey
>colony in Reston, Virginia about 9 years ago, was an airborne virus.  The
>keepers were found to have anti-Ebola antibodies in their blood, but were
>unaffected by the virus (as at the time it was monkey-specific).  So,
>don't think it can't happen with the human-specific variants.

Yes, the strain went airborne, but it had to sacrifice something for
that mutation - it was less virulent and unable to infect the new
host. In whatever way  a bug is modified by genetic engineers or
evolution to become more virulent there is always a cost to the bug.
It may survive for less time outside the body, be less destructive
once it is in there, or be non-viable outside of the nurturing
laboratory setting.

>> I am not dismissing biological warfare, but we have to try not to get
>> too carried away. It is perfectly possible that these viruses have
>> been engineered to be more virulent for use in biological weapons, but
>> the likelihood of them being used by one nation against another is
>> pretty remote.
>
>But, no one can control terrorists, which is a more likely scenario than a
>nation using biowarfare.  After all, that cult in Japan gassed a Tokyo
>subway with sarin (nerve gas), and you don't need all that much technology
>to grow some of the favorite biowarfare bugs.

Quite true, but not many of them have done it yet have they? Almost
anyone can grow a biowarfare bug, but we haven't been wiped out yet.
Despite the sterotypical image of a terroist being an easily excitable
psychopathic nutcase I am pretty sure that they are not. They would
have to plan things carefully and think about what they were doing, or
they would alienate anyone that supported their cause. Alternatively
they could realease a highly virulent bacterium or virus and wipe out
their supporters by accident. That is the problem at the moment with
biological warfare, there is not enough control over where the bugs go
and who they kill.

>I'd be more worried about other bugs than Ebola or Marburg.  Like a really
>nasty flu strain.

Something like that is possibly more likely, but the world has managed
to survive many very nasty flu strain epidemics so far. There wouldn't
be enough control over the spread of the disease to make it a viable
option. It could rapidly spread over the whole world and infect the
very people who created and released it (or their supporters). Wait a
while until they can figure out how to control it. Then I think it
will be time to worry. 

At this point you're thinking 'vaccinations'. There is no way that
enough of the people that are not intended to be killed by the 'super
bug' could be vaccinated and be certain it is going to work. The
vaccine may fail, or it may not reach all the desired people.

At the moment the holders of biological weapons have gun that they
cannot point in a specific direction and could well end up shooting
themselves with it I think they will hold their fire until they have
at least that part figured out.



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