BIOLOGICAL WEAPON: DID CHINA DROP ONE? By Bhavana C. Dhoundiyal


Its 21st century and we are coming up with a very innovative range of weapons! Not nearly Arms and Ammunitions, but weapons! With the forecasted world history, to what I exactly remember is that World War II witnessed Atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan that had its effects on generations thereafter, I don’t think we are ready for any Global catastrophe. But wait, what exactly happened? 

Here’s the series of events: 

31st December 2019- China reported WHO about several cases of pneumonia, till then the virus was unknown, but health experts were still hunting down the cause. 

5th January 2020- China thought that this might be a resurgence of the previous deadly outbreak SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that originated earlier in 2002-2003.

7th January 2020- Health officials identified a new virus, the novel virus was named 2019-nCoV and was identified as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold. 

11th January 2020- China announced first death from the virus where the victim had purchased goods from the Huanan Seafood Market despite treatment, there was an improvement and he died of heart failure.

13th January 2020- The first case of a woman was reported outside China, in Thailand, who had arrived from Wuhan by WHO.

17th January 2020- Followed by another death in Wuhan, the US came into action and started screening passengers arriving from the city. 

With this France, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, and Nepal also confirmed cases in their countries. 

Between January 20-26, china confirmed 200 cases with another death outside its Hubei province including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzen. While the Lunar year travelogue was on peak, the news of human to human transmission was given to the state broadcaster by the Chinese experts, resulting in a massive outbreak of the virus. 

23rd January 2020- Rail and Air routes were suspended in China, keeping cities of Wuhan, Xiantao, Chibi in the Hubei province under quarantine, affecting 56 million people on the record. 

By the end of January, WHO declared coronavirus a Global Emergency with 7711 cases, 304 deaths, and 14,380 infections in China. Followed by this, new confirmed cases flooded from India, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the US, the UAE, and Vietnam. 

With early February, the virus with a humongous rate had surpassed the death toll of its family member SARs in 2002-2003. Recurrent news of increasing death tolls and the rapid spread of infections was making headlines across every digital platform. Middle-east, Europe, UK, etc. you name it, every country has been going through a severe lockdown and health crisis. End of March, sparked a severe health emergency crisis in the US, crossing the records of the Chinese numbers as well, with over 300,000 cases. With April, Mosques also started observing social distancing, Ramadan has been doing the iftars without gatherings and mass prayers. 

Talking About the Weapon!

I think the facts above are not to be showcased in Art Gallery for archival visits on Rs.20 ticket. As of today, the pandemic has raised two questions, Firstly, Whether coronavirus outbreak has been a result of an accident from the biosafety laboratory in the Wuhan City of China and Secondly, however impossible, in the whimsical idea of positioning itself the single greatest superpower, China did calculatingly launch a biological attack to rout out its rivals of industrial and economic capacity? Those who have answers to these, surface out a plethora of facts. 

With historical traces, back in 600 B.C found the earlier fragments where countries have used virus in warfare by either poisoning the wells or bombarding plague-ridden bodies into cities during a siege to achieve their authoritative goals but none of them has used it as a diabolic plan but flaring up COVID-19 indicates otherwise. 

As per WHO (World Health Organization) any microorganisms like viruses, fungi, bacteria, or other toxins, if premeditatively produced or released to be fatal to mankind, animals or plants is a Biological weapon. Bio-agents are as such, that can pose a challenge to public health and can relatively increase the number of human deaths in a short period yet remaining difficult to contain resulting in a severe outbreak of an epidemic like Ebola or Lassa viruses. Bio-weapons include chemical reactions, nuclear effects, and radiological weapons that are preponderant weapons of mass destruction. Countries suspected or known to have such programs include the US, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Israel, Iran, and North Korea. The array of weapons includes anthrax, botulinum, smallpox, and other such diseases that once plagued the world. The use of the same is prudently causing a rise in the bioterrorist attack. 

Problem: The Biological Labs

The problem lies with the high ideals of the inveterate secrecy, big ambitions, and absolute disregard for life or the environment of China supported by the gospel truth that bio labs have been the fountainhead of major threats, where desiring hegemon nation see them as potentially usable as weapons of mass destruction, proved by a large number of such facilities worldwide. The laboratory in Wuhan is the result of a collaborative effort with France, after the first SARS outbreak in 2002. The Lab scores in one of 20 of such facilities under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with the only one dealing with Virology. Fully compliant with ISO standards, the Wuhan facility interacts regularly with a host of outside experts. Like other labs, it aims to protect populations against new viruses. The trouble lies at the blurry line between defensive and offensive study, which lies at the heart of biological research and warfare.

Notably, the data on such labs is scarce but the outbreak of a virus is no new “accident”. Be it the H5N1 from the US facility or Ebola from the US linked labs in West Africa or the Russians confirming to the explosion at Novosibirsk, there have been several breaches at UK labs as well, so it seems that accidents do happen. 

Conclusion 

What eventually has sparked questions is the death of Whistle-blower Li Wenliang and hiding away the actual figures of death and confirmed cases in the city. Also, there is the clout that the Chinese keeping the pull strong on WHO, which had initially downplayed the news of coronavirus and kept on echoing the Chinese fact that the virus is not contagious. Outcome being, the US halted funding anything to WHO.

If Beijing wants to prove its innocence, then it has to be willing and open towards the investigation of its bio-related facilities. Besides that, the Chinese virus massacre is a clear mark of indication for other counties to end the idea of a Biological war and power up absolute adherence to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, a treaty that bans a group of bioweapons.

Although on one side there has been a Global Commercial shift negating china by countries like the UK, saying usual business with china might be affected after the pandemic subsides, India playing the usual “diplomat”, called for invigorating WHO, since it’s no ordinary organization, and weakening the same might result in the downfall of another Global Organisation in the global village, whereby preventing another epidemic will be next to impossible. 


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