BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS & WARFARE
War can be of various types, be it an arms and ammunition war, a chemical war, but the current and most trending type of war is a thought of using biological weapons in the war i.e. biological war, the bit destructions of which we know lately. So elaborating more first of all what is a biological weapon? A biological weapons consists microorganisms like virus, bacteria, fungi, or other toxins that are produced and released deliberately to cause disease and death in humans, animals or plants.
Biological agents, like anthrax, botulinum toxin and plague can pose a difficult public health challenge causing large numbers of deaths in a short amount of time while being difficult to contain. Bioterrorism attacks could also result in an epidemic, for example if Ebola or Lassa viruses were used as the biological agents.
Biological weapons are a subset of a larger class of weapons referred to as weapons of mass destruction, which also includes chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons. The use of biological agents is a serious problem, and the risk of using these agents in a bioterrorist attack is increasing.
Next is what do we understand through biological warfare? Biological warfare is the term used to describe the use of chemical or biological agents as weapons to injure or kill humans, livestock, or plants.
We should also know that who was the first to use biological warfare? One of the first recorded uses of biological warfare occurred in 1347, when Mongol forces are reported to have catapulted plague-infested bodies over the walls into the Black Sea port of Caffa (now Feodosiya, Ukraine), at that time a Genoese trade centre in the Crimean Peninsula.
BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS/ EPIDEMICS OVER THE YEARS
Russian plague: 1770-1772
Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic: 1793
Flu pandemic: 1889-1890
American polio epidemic: 1916
Spanish Flu: 1918-1920
Asian Flu: 1957-1958
H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic: 2009-2010
West African Ebola epidemic: 2014-2016
Zika Virus epidemic: 2015-present day
All these diseases and many more has caused such a pandemic that has swept away much of the population of the world.
Only a natural occurrence of these diseases has caused so much distress and chaos, then what will happen if these diseases were used as a biological weapon in a war. The mere thought only, gives us goose bumps.
Currently the whole world is looking at China for the situation which is prevailing now i.e. SARS covid-19 pandemic. Everyone is trying to find out that how did the virus came out. Many are saying it is a natural outburst through Bat but a majority of the mass is also supporting the opinion that it is a pre-planned biological attack by the country and the virus has come from the Wuhan’s lab as the no. Of deceased is very less compared to other countries and the same is for the no. Of people who turned out covid-19 positive. Though the final reports and decision has not come yet, the investigation is in process.
Yet after covid-19 virus the country (China) has reported the world’s first ever human infection of H10N3 bird flu. The world is tensed and in suspicion that is all these are a beginning of an era of biological attacks? And if it is so then it would be a nightmare. As after this pandemic the world is already shaken, many have lost their lives, many their jobs, many are depressed waiting for the world to be normal again.
Not only wars but there is one more thing whose mere thought of gives me chills and that is bio terrorism. First of all what is bio terrorism; Bioterrorism is the use of bacteria, viruses, or germs to purposely harm large quantities of people or communities. These “weapons” are spread through air, water, or food sources. Bioterrorism is rare and is used to threaten people, governments, and countries.
The biological weapons as per the CDC classification are classified into three categories, Category A, B and C, based on the priority of the agents to pose a risk to the national security and the ease with which they can be disseminated.
Thus we can also see bioterrorism as a part of future threat to the world and the mankind as a whole.
The countries who currently possesses bio weapons are Only 16 countries plus Taiwan have had or are currently suspected of having biological weapons programs: Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Libya, North Korea, Russia, South Africa, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States.
TOWARDS A SOLUTION
Just like we have put a ban on the nuclear weapons we should do the same with these biological weapons, though their use has started is not certain but we should be proactive regarding such hazardous things as we already know the repercussions of being negligent.
It should be made certain that any such negligence by any country would not be entertained and the nation would be solely liable and on breach of these terms strict actions would be taken.
Investigation and scrutinisation of each lab should be done by WHO to check whether any lab is practising or making any unwanted substances which could be harmful for humans. If any such practises are found it should be made sure that they are being banned and discontinued and a heavy penalty should also be charged.
Biological attacks can be prevented, through maintaining international norms and improving surveillance systems, deterring potential adversaries by demonstrating a strong national response, developing better forensic analysis, generating better intelligence, and implementing sensible security practices for legitimate scientists.
Prevention strategies of particular salience include raising awareness among researchers and practitioners about the risk, involving researchers from universities and industry in efforts to strengthen the BWTC, creating mechanisms to consider appropriate scientific response to research with potential bio weapons application, and supporting programs that seek to employ former bio-weaponeers in peaceful pursuits.
it is clear that biological weapons are proliferating. Supporting a broad awareness of the perils of biological weapons will itself advance understanding of useful response measures. The ID community could take a number of additional actions that would strengthen the nation's capacity to respond to the use of a biological weapon. ID expertise will be critical to early recognition of the diseases that would follow biological weapons use, to recommend the most rapid diagnostic procedures, to assist in the development of medical treatment strategies, to support the creation of hospital response policies, and to undertake research into new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
Awareness and education: ID professionals are called on every day to diagnose and treat patients with fever, pneumonia, rash, and flulike symptoms; therefore, it is the ID professional who would be among the clinicians most likely to recognize the diseases caused by biological weapons. Professional educational and training curricula should be enhanced so that ID professionals are better capable of recognizing the diseases that would follow use of a biological weapon such as anthrax, plague, or smallpox. The perils of delayed recognition of one of these diseases, both for the patient and for the involved community, would be grave. Fostering strong working relationships between clinically based ID professionals (especially hospital epidemiologists) and health department-based ID professionals is an important step toward improving the capacity to both detect and respond to bioterrorist attacks.
Laboratory diagnosis: Should the recognition of an unusual disease or pattern of illnesses prompt consideration of possible biological weapon use, members of the ID community will be called on to advise upon the most rapid procedures for diagnostic confirmation of disease. In anticipation of this, ID experts should become familiar with the processes by which either the hospital laboratory or the local or state health department, in consultation with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as necessary, will perform diagnostic studies to implicate or exclude biological weapons use. A process that establishes criteria and training measures for laboratory diagnosis of these diseases is being undertaken jointly by the Association of Public Health Laboratories and the CDC.
Systems for distributing therapeutic Should a biological weapon use be confirmed, treatment and intervention strategies for the ill and for the exposed but not yet ill will be critical. Depending on the disease, antibiotics, and/or vaccines or other therapies, as well as quarantine, could be lifesaving. Public health agencies have begun to explore systems for emergency distribution and treatment of antibiotics and vaccines, systems that would also be useful should emergency interventions be needed for naturally occurring epidemics, such as pandemic influenza. The ID community should play an important role in the shaping of such efforts.
Hospital response: Hospitals will bear the brunt of caring for the sick and dying should a biological weapon be used. Yet few hospitals are prepared to cope with even a handful of cases of a highly contagious, life-threatening disease, and few hospitals are prepared to manage even a modest surge in the numbers of seriously ill patients. Hospital leaders should examine current policies in relation to this threat and develop new policies as appropriate. Infection control practices are but one critical component of such planning efforts. Numerous other issues are of compelling importance, such as hospital roles and authorities, prevention of disease transmission amongst staff, personnel requirements, security needs, communication both within and outside the hospital, and media interactions. ID expertise is of clear relevance to many of these issues.
Scientific research: The ID community already does research that seeks new strategies for diagnosis, prevention, or treatment for infectious disease. Commensurate with this, the ID community might elect to encourage and reward basic science research efforts that seek to produce novel diagnostic technologies, preventive, or therapeutic interventions for the diseases caused by biological weapons. At the same time, ID professionals can be compelling advocates for directing increased funding or attention toward critical needs.
The present study enunciates the possible effects of the use of biological weapons accompanied with some solutions and precautionary measures as concerning to the future. While conducting the research on this topic I have come across a lot of facts and information about the hazards which these biological weapons could do and which could last for over generations. An attack made by using these kinds of weapons would definitely be a disgrace to mankind because once this type of attack is made it cannot be undone and it takes years to the countries to recover and rejuvenate again after suffering these attacks. Henceforth, it is of utmost importance to handle such practises with due care, as we have to be proactive in handling these situations as the world and its people are in not a state to tackle situations like these now, for the time being. Thus I would like to encourage all the nations to come together and discuss this crucial topic and find a way to avoid any future use of such weapons and this could be done by us only by not keeping mum and coming up with better ideas to encourage our government and making people more aware. Otherwise only thing we will leave behind for our coming generation is a world full of destruction, chaos, hardships and remorse.
1. https://www.who.int › Health topics
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › articles ›
Yuvraj Singh Chauhan a II Year student pursuing B.A.L.L.B from S.S. Jain Subodh Law College, Jaipur (Rajasthan).