COVID-19: Pandemic or weapon?

By: Saira Naz

Before IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings , as stated by Director Kristalina Georgieva, they were expecting a positive per capita income in 160 member countries 3 months ago but now that number has been turned on its head and they are now projecting that more than 170 countries will have negative per capita income growth this year. You don’t want the bad disease you made to come back and make your own people sick! Economies and supply chains are complex and intertwined, and no country would willingly engineer a weapon that would risk disrupting them. But still the question that whether corona virus was made in a laboratory or not is a hot topic in the pandemic. As of now, no reports confirm this. But the matter of fact is IT COULD BE. Candidate Bio weapons and Bio attacks in past includes Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax),Botulinum Toxin (Botulism) This toxin is the most poisonous substance known. It 100 000 times more toxic than sarin gas, rickettsia prowazekii used in World War ,Burkholderia Mallei and Pseudomallei, Francisella Tularensis (Tularemia), Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses (HFVs)Ebola, Marburg, Junin, Rift Valley fever, and yellow fever viruses have been classified as category A bioweapons agents by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to the ability of the bio weapons to cause wide spread damage many countries are trying to develop the more and more lethal forms of bio engineered pathogens and toxins . There is a handful of initiators in Asia alone. Like China , Japan ,North Korea and North America . There are still many other countries having stocked biological agents for offensive military purposes. In 1972 over 140 countries including UK, USA and Russia signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, also known as the Biological Weapons Convention. Though it prohibited the stock piling of the biological weapon and research on it but still many countries continued their work on biological agents. There are many factors that support covid-19 to be a pandemic .It will be clear if we compare characteristics of an ideal biological weapon with COVID-19 like RO Number : There is a concept in epidemiology called the Basic Reproduction Number (R0), which is a calculation of how many people an infected person goes on to infect. If RO number is high it would rage through populations outside the target area as surely as water poured on the top of a hill would flow to the bottom, Two Way Effects :For biological warfare purposes, you’d typically want a R0 of zero in friendly forces and populations, and a low R0 in the target population is desirable so that the weapon can be targeted effectively. Since there is no vaccine for corona in any country it also shows that Nobody in their right mind spends time and money engineering a weapon that affects their own population as badly as the target. Further, when one looks at the characteristics of an “ideal” biological warfare agent and compares this list to the features of this novel coronavirus, there are glaring differences. A biological weapon that kills or incapacitates the elderly and vulnerable, but leaves the economically productive fighting-age population mostly intact seems to be not well-thought through. An incubation period that is both long and variable would have been considered a poor characteristic for biological weapons. Both China and the United States have excellent defensive laboratories well-suited to figuring out if a deliberate biological attack had happened. While the United States and China have economic, political and regional rivalries, China starting an actual war, as opposed to a trade war, with the United States makes no sense. The United States, which has not had a biological weapons program since 1970, breaking its own laws to start a war with China makes no sense, either. Genetic Analysis of Corona Virus has shown The genetic similarities between the coronavirus found in humans and that found in the pangolins, which make scientists suspect that humans may have got the virus from the pangolins. The researchers said they had found a coronavirus in smuggled pangolins that was a 99 percent genetic match to the virus circulating in people. One explanation how humans may have contracted corona virus is that virus may have originated with horseshoe bats in China and then spread to other animals, possibly, ant-eating pangolin which was subsequently eaten by people. But there is no evidence that coronavirus was genetically engineered, as claimed in a study on the genomic analysis of the new virus. Edward Holmes, a researcher at University of Sydney, explained 4% difference being equivalent to an average of 50 years of evolution. SARS-CoV 2 has the ability to bind ACE-2(human protein) which shows the effect of natural selection. In case of genetic manipulation, reverse genetic systems available for beta coronaviruses should have been used. In a nutshell, the odds are heavily in favor of the theory that coronavirus jumped from the animals to humans. The most compelling reason to believe that coronavirus is not human-made is that the recent coronavirus closely resembles two other viruses that triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. All three viruses seem to have originated in bats. As far as the facts that support the claim that COVID-19 is a biological weapon are concerned there Factors that support COVID-19 to be made in Chinese laboratory e.g. the presence of an advanced virology lab in Wuhan fed some theories and accusations that China had deliberately unleashed an attack. Steven Mosher , a social scientist , claimed that China’s National Institute of Biosafety Laboratory at Wuhan Institute of Virology where researchers have studied the bat viruses is only ten miles away from the market where corona virus cases were first discovered. Also US president Donald Trump called this virus a Chinese virus. But Beijing has rejected this claim declaring it an election year strategy by Donald Trump’s republican party. But there is a lot of scholarly evidence to suggest that coronavirus was not manufactured in the laboratory. Even if the exact source of the disease is not known yet, the virus originally came from wildlife. While some factors support COVID-19 to be an American attack. For instance , Some Chinese and Iranian commentators claim it was an American attack. They believe so because in July 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closed the top-secret US Army’s medical research institute of infectious disease at Fort Detrick after its alleged failure to comply with the safety inspection. Also in January 2020 , a doctor was stopped from testing for corona virus in US. Dr.Helen Chi , an expert of infectious disease in Seattle , tried to conduct tests for new corona virus but was stopped by federal officials. In September, 2019 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave Greffex Inc. A $18,900,000 contract for corona virus vaccine development. On February 20, 2020 , it was claimed that the company has reportedly created a vaccine. The developments suggest that CDC was aware of the coronavirus leak as earlier as in June and July 2019. What is more, in October, 2019, US military games team visited China’s Wuhan city and stayed there for 10 days, but no solider was able to play the game because of the so-called flue. In October 19, the United States organized event 201- A Global Pandemic Exercise with the participation of the Deputy Director of CIA. To conclude Laboratories do not create viruses as handily as nature does also Genetic analysis have shown that this virus isn’t simply stitched RNA or DNA for that is what a man made virus looks like. Also, agents used in past as weapons, were not easily contagious from person to person. This meant that they could be targeted. But as far as corona virus is concerned it is very contagious and it can easily effect the country’s own people and alleys and no one wants to stumble into the snare which he laid for others . With about 5.7 million cases in US and 23.7 million cases worldwide its still ambiguous if corona virus is a natural or a man made pandemic but arguably from all the above mentioned facts it appears that corona virus outbreak is a natural pandemic.