SMALLPOX: DEFEATED BY PEOPLE BUT COULD IT BE ABUSED BY BIO TERRORISTS?
“Smallpox was the worst disease in history. It killed more people than all the wars in history.”
– Larry Brilliant
There is no such a thing as a dead virus. Virus can be defeated, eradicated and erased but it can’t be really dead. We, the people do not give up on fighting with them for years, decades and even centuries but, still, it is always somewhere around, it is lurking for a new host and when the new host is found, we have no peace anymore. The mankind is trying to make a deal with the nature but the aggressive greed and malign profit keep us away from building a balance with the ecosystem. The current world we live in is a full of security risks and challenges and the permanent atmosphere of asymmetric conflicts has turned our civilization into the darkness and has awakened the old fears, ancient threats and forgotten bugs from the past.
The concept of biological war is not anymore a science fiction inspiration. It is a daily concern on a global level, nightmare of the world’s population, the beast from the shadow. The possible reality when some of the biological warriors take Hanta, Lasa, Denga or Ebola and misuse them against the targeted group of people, against the civilization we belong to, against all of us. The additional question is, what if that lonely bio terrorist finds and uses Smallpox, the virus considered a category A biological disease, because it is so easily disseminated and transmitted from one person to another? Then, the apocalypse for an international biological safety will be started with a zero patient. This virus is known as a fatal killer, high mortality and social panic is something included in the package of smallpox as a biological agent.
However, smallpox is not available to be militarized by ordinary sociopaths because it is officially declared eradicated in 1980: ”Smallpox eradication has been defined by the WHO Expert Committee on Smallpox Eradication as elimination of clinical illness caused by variola virus.The Committee added…since there is no human carrier state of epidemiological importance and no recognized animal reservoir of the disease, the absence of clinically apparent cases in man may be assumed to signify the absence of a naturally occurring smallpox.”
The viral disease caused by variola virus has the incubation period of about 12 days and sometimes it is from 7 to 17 days. Initial signs of the illness start with high fever, fatigue and muscle aches. Then, the characteristic rash covers the face, arms and legs. This rash is followed with flat lesions which are pus-filled. After one month, the scabs fall off and patient is recovered but there is still a number of 30% of those who die from this infection what keeps this disease as one real micro monster. First of all, the routine vaccination against the mentioned microbe ended in 1972. The population which has been vaccinated before is now semi-immune but the majority of those who aren’t vaccinated at all as the vulnerable target in some potential conflict what would include biological warfare.
The historical pictures don’t deny the ability of smallpox to be used in war program. During the World War II, the US started the germs research, following the trend in Berlin and Tokyo but the Soviet biological weapons program and famous Biopreparat has never stopped to amaze the conspiracy theory holders. When the WHO closed the smallpox virus chapter in international health book, US and Russia promised to keep this virus only for protection and scientific purposes and highly protected in laboratories but the question is who is the next one to them and who has these stocks or who has the plans to get them? Some experts for biological weapons claim that North Korea and Iraq might have produced also the smallpox stocks but the confirmation of it is still missed.
The biological weapons sounds like a “nuclear bomb of poor” but it saves the time and costs. It kills with no mercy. There is no failure when it comes to the victims. The winner takes all but the real problem is that there is no winner but the bug which finds its host. The realistic concern is behind the government loud promises that everything is under control and that there is no chance that people are going to be the victims of the bio terrorist attack, which would consist of variola virus against the 80% of people who are not immune on it at all. Even, if they are honest in their statements, what we will do with the progressive genetically oriented experimenting on the viruses and modifying of their components? The laboratories must work on something and must justify the tax payer’s money.
So, if we imagine that some of them are changing the biological core of the smallpox or that enhance it with some another deadly virus attributes. It could be Ebola virus mixed with Smallpox or Smallpox empowered with Rabies characteristic. The new laboratory baby will be 21st century Frankenstein. One laboratory will be against another, one country against another one. The cold war atmosphere nowadays and the polar centers among super powers encourage the hidden bio weapons efforts with no doubt. But, the state program is not the only reason to be worried about. Non-state players are also one of those who are interested to dance with the devil. Richard Preston named smallpox as the demon in the freezer. What if that demon is not anymore in the freezer but in the hands of lone wolf anti system psychopath or simply hateful ideological or religious terrorist? He could be an expert for laboratory work and he could make a plot during his working hours or he could be corrupted and paid by some external actors to sell the product and pay the bills. One small sample of variola virus unleashed and set free for the sake of God or money, will be the end of the world we know.
Biological warriors are not always those who come from the far away deserts and quote holy books while they kill us. The modern biological warfare can include the high professionals who will be paid to destroy the enemy the best way they can and very fast. The militarized germ is a perfect choice. The weaponized variola virus is a pure perfection for a bio terrorism and its own dream of destruction. There is a capacity of virus to be modified and turned into hybrid which could be deadly for the world, stuck in the lack of vaccination. It is enough to start with one patient and in seven days, the planet would breathe in smallpox and breathe out death.
I believe it is more than urgent to research the security and safety protocols in laboratories which are ensuring the dangerous biological material and on the international level it must be empowered the line of anti-biological weapons policy. Smallpox is maybe not active yet as a threat but as a potential threat it must be taken into serious consideration with all strategies to rather be prevented than cured. The biological terrorism is cheap but we should think about the expensive costs, human lives. The demon in the freezer is never dead.