It’s like a scene out of Resident Evil – a corporation tinkers with a disease until they find a way to weaponize it. One scientist in The Netherlands has successfully converted a marginally infectious H5N1 influenza virus into a more infectious version to humans. The stated purposes of such an exercise are to sturdy the nature of the virus and know how to combat an influenza epidemic of H5N1 if it naturally becomes more infectious.
Humanity has a nasty history of spreading nasty things, especially in the name of warfare. The origin and spread of the Black Plague began as a weaponization of the plague against an enemy who was under siege. The refugees from that siege then helped spread it throughout Europe. In more recent history, smallpox infected blankets were used to wipe out indigenous Indian tribes in South America and the United States by the British in their war against the French.
Biological and chemical weapons
In modern times, depending on your status as a United States ally, your biological and chemical weapons are either not talked about, or are touted as a reason to ostracize and possibly attack a “rogue” nation. We have introduced an interesting double-standard in this country, where it’s okay for us to develop chemical and biological weapons (in secret) as long as no one else does…well, no one else that isn’t an ally. The chemical attacks on the Kurds by Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s occurred while Iraq was an ally of the United States.
In World War I, German agents infected U.S. livestock destined for the warfront with the glanders disease that hampered military operations dependent on livestock to move military equipment and supplies. A different disease, the Spanish flu, resulted in the end of World War I after killing an estimated 50 to 100 million people; it was estimated to have infected 500 million people – about 27% of the world’s population at the time. In World War II, the Japanese tested several infectious agents on civilians and prisoners in China. During that time, America was investigating the use of biological agents as well. The United States, Russia and any number of countries continue to study and pursue these agents, all the while pointing out how dangerous it would be if it was developed by the “wrong” people.
Weaponized diseases and the nation of Iran
We know who the “wrong” people are today – it would be dangerous for Iran to gain a properly weaponized biological agent and launch it against the United States or one of our allies. In a strange twist of fate, one of the most disturbing and damaging biological attacks on American soil was developed by our own government! The anthrax attacks in 2001 were from a strain developed in our own laboratories. Can you imagine if it was in the hands of someone who was bent on wholesale destruction of the United States?
Think about the implications here – H5N1 has been successfully changed, artificially mutated to become highly contagious between humans. H1N1, the original Spanish influenza infected a quarter of the human population and killed almost 5%. To put that scenario to use today – imagine a highly radicalized terrorist organization (Iran is real handy at the moment) infecting a band of infiltrators to the United States. They enter the country with no visible weapons, but are infecting people the entire time and spread to every corner of the country. H5N1 is a slowly moving, but highly deadly disease, killing as much as 60% of the known infected cases. In United States numbers, assuming the current estimate of 311 million people, within a few years 77 million people could be infected; if the disease is as highly pathogenic as suspected, over 46 million of those infected would be dead. If it spreads to the entire planet (population 8 billion), that’s about 2 billion infected with 1.2 billion dead.
So the thinking man’s question should be “Why in the world are we messing with this?” or perhaps “Why are we advertising that it can be successfully accomplished?”