Bioterrorism | IAS Target IAS Target

Bioterrorism

14 Mar 2022

Category : Security

Topic: Bioterrorism

What exactly is bioterrorism?

The deliberate and intentional release of biological agents such as viruses, bacteria, toxins, or other harmful agents to cause illness or death in humans, food crops, and livestock in order to terrorize the civilian population is known as bioterrorism. They are extremely dangerous because they can be modified, tailored, or mutated. A small amount is enough to have a disastrous effect. It is also known as 'Germ Warfare.' This article explains the various aspects of bioterrorism.

What is the most lethal biological weapon?

The following are some of the most lethal biological weapons ever used.
  • Anthrax - Bacillus Anthracis, a bacteria, caused anthrax. It is one of the most lethal biological weapons agents. It has been applied to food, water, spray, and powders. Its tasteless and odorless.
  • Botulinum Toxin - Clostridium Botulinum, a naturally occurring bacteria, causes it. It is capable of contaminating food and water. During Japan's occupation of Manchuria, it was known that it has been used on POWs.
  • Francisella Tularensis - According to a former Soviet Union scientist, the Soviet Union Army used this as a biological weapon against the Nazi Army of Germany during World War II's Battle of Stalingrad.
  • Aflatoxin - Iraq had developed and deployed a variety of weapons laced with Aflatoxin. The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) noted it in 1995. It was, however, destroyed during the Gulf War.

Why in the News

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of several world powers in the event that rogue states or terrorist groups uses biological weapons against them. Following World War II (during cold war era), the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union were involved in the development of complex biological weapons programmes, and several nations continue to do so today.

How is Bioterrorism Riskier Than Other Types of Terrorism? Bioterrorism is risky because:

  • Biological agents are appealing terrorism tools because they are relatively simple and inexpensive to obtain.
  • The virus is easily transmitted. Beyond the actual physical damage, biological weapons can cause widespread fear and panic.
  • The virus is easily transmitted. Beyond the actual physical damage, biological weapons can cause widespread fear and panic
  • The risk of massive annihilation of life is far too great.
  • They can be used in tiny quantities, but the consequences are lethal.
  • Their presence cannot be detected quickly because they take time to develop and spread widely and disastrously.

What Are the Different Kinds of Bioterrorism Agents?

Based on the ability and extent of damage that can be caused , three types of agents are used. They are as follows:
  • High-priority agents fall into this category. Anthrax and the Ebola virus are two examples.
  • Agents with a moderate priority are classified as Category 2. Examples include Brucellosis and Q fever.
  • Low-priority agents fall into this category. Yellow fever virus and Hantavirus are two examples.

Covid-19: Bioweapon or Not a Bioweapon?

Based on the ability and extent of damage that can be caused , three types of agents are used. They are as follows:
  • High-priority agents fall into this category. Anthrax and the Ebola virus are two examples.
  • Agents with a moderate priority are classified as Category  2. Examples include Brucellosis and Q fever.
  • Low-priority agents fall into this category. Yellow fever virus and Hantavirus are two examples.

Covid-19: Bioweapon or Not a Bioweapon?

  • The novel-coronavirus is thought to have evolved in bats.
  • Some intelligence agencies initially claimed that coronaviruses occurred naturally, but later claimed that the pandemic may have started in the Wuhan lab in China after researchers discovered how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans.
  • However, there is currently no evidence or proof that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.
  • With hostile neighbor's such as Pakistan and China, the threat of biological warfare becomes significant and cannot be completely ruled out in the Indian context

Bioterrorism Defense

The European Union (EU), Russia, and China are collaborating to combat bioterrorism and biowarfare. The goal is to make it more difficult for terrorists to obtain resources for developing biological weapons. Among these efforts should be:
1.Rapid Detection and Intelligence Sharing
  • Global intelligence agencies should collaborate and share credible information.
  • Combining human and non-human resources, laboratory resources, and information supervision in novel, legal, and satisfying ways that enable timely detection and categorization of hazards
  • Rapid detection and surveillance are critical for an effective response to a bioterrorist attack
  • 2.Pathogen Examination
    • consistent techniques for detecting a wide range of pathogens used as biological weapons in a measurable manner.
    • Pathogens are common in the environment and can make detection more difficult.
    • Rapid, c.

    Convention on Biological and Toxic Weapons, 1972.

    1. This contract was signed in 1972.
    2. It went into effect in 1975.
    3. As of 2019, 109 countries had signed the treaty, and 183 countries were parties to it. Tanzania was the most recent country to join the treaty.
    4. It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty to prohibit the development of biological weapons.
    5. It prohibits nations from developing, stockpiling, acquiring, or retaining biological agents with the potential to be used as weapons.
    6. This treaty was ratified by India in 2015.
    7. At the Review Conferences, the State Parties examine how the Treaty is being implemented. So far, eight review conferences have taken place.
    8. The eighth Review Conference was held in Geneva in 2016. It was a disappointing conference because they were unable to produce any meaningful results.
    9. The next review conference, the ninth, will be held in Geneva in 2021.

    Systems for Biodefense

    • Upgrading and installing biodefense systems in major urban areas to protect against lethal disease outbreaks caused by bioterrorism.
    • During the Cold War, the Soviet Union established several biodefense systems throughout the country.
    • Creating and stockpiling vaccines and antimicrobial medicines to protect people from infections caused by biological weapons.
    • First responders are being trained on how to deal with a biological weapons attack.
    • Improving diagnostic laboratory and epidemiological capabilities.

    The Way Forward

    • The studies conducted to assess the actual effectiveness of counter-bioterrorism measures are insufficient and must be revised.
    • It is critical that focused and methodical efforts in studying the efficacy of counter-bioterrorism measures are applied meticulously.
    • It should be noted that the implementation of specific counter-bioterrorism practices may have implications for human rights, institutional liberties, democratic values, and the Rule of Law
    • systems in major urban agglomerations to protect against lethal disease outbreaks caused by bioterrorism

    Most Commonly Asked Questions

    What exactly is the goal of bioterrorism? The goal of bioterrorism is typically to instill fear and/or intimidation in governments or societies in order to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. Bioterrorism may have a different impact on societies than conventional weapons like explosives.
    What is the first known instance of bioterrorism? One of the first documented uses of biological warfare occurred in 1347, when Mongol forces catapulted plague-infested bodies over the walls into the Black Sea port of Caffa (now Feodosiya, Ukraine), which was a Genoese trade centre in the Crimean Peninsula at the time.