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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/29/20

A 'Perfect Storm' of Bio-War Agents and Climate Change

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There are several military and civilian medical research facilities around the world that either maintain stocks of dangerous pathogenic viruses and bacteria for research, clandestine development of biological warfare weaponry, or both. With early scientific predictions that man-made global climate change would result in the creation of optimum environments for viruses dangerous to both humans and animals, with mutative viruses jumping from species to species, resulting in pandemics, the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China has already had dramatic consequences.

The outbreak of the deadly microbe novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, the World Health Organization's official designation of the Wuhan coronavirus, could not have come at a worse time for Asia. The virus began spreading at the onset of the Buddhist Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated around Asia and highlighted by a major increase in air, rail, auto, and other transportation related to family visitations and vacations. Major losses in retail, travel, and tourism sectors resulted from the spreading of the coronavirus.

Although there are a variety of coronaviruses, the current virus is only the third one known to spread from animals to humans, a process known as zoonosis. In 2003, a coronavirus in civets, badgers, and dogs spread to humans in China, resulting in the rapid worldwide spreading of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in over 32 countries and resulted in over 800 deaths. SARS, like the present coronavirus, resulted in a massive impact on transportation and a temporary negative economic impact on China and other Asian countries. One alarming note is that the Wuhan coronavirus has spread faster than was the case with SARS.

In 2012, the second known species-jumping coronavirus, known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), was traced to Egyptian tomb bats. However, camels served as the actual bridge for the virus to infect humans, the virus having had remained dormant in the camels for some 20 years. The first reported MERS case was in Saudi Arabia and it rapidly spread around the Middle East and beyond.

The current novel coronavirus has been linked to the sale of exotic animal meat in a Wuhan food market that specializes in seafood but apparently also sells the meat of dogs, deer, minks, snakes, and bats. Other pathogens, like H5N1 influenza and the Ebola virus, germinated in animal hosts prior to their spread to humans. With world air and sea temperatures increasing, our planet is providing novel viruses and other pathogens with a massive Petri dish that permits unimpeded mutation and virulence. The World Health Organization has cited increased rainfall and high humidity as factors contributing to the appearance of new infectious diseases.

Humans and other species not only face the danger of drastic climate change permitting viral "bugs" to flourish, but there is the threat that some of the most dangerous pathogens, including coronaviruses that are stored in Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories around the world, could accidentally be released into nurturing environments. With such unintended releases of such deadly biological warfare agents, climatic and social factors permit such deadly bugs as coronaviruses to infect large numbers of humans and animals.

The United States signed, along with the United Kingdom and the USSR, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction or "BWC." Evidence suggests that the CIA merely transferred its bio-war programs to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland where bio-warfare research was being conducted under the cover of "non-proliferation" enforcement and research. Other banned research was conducted at Fort Detrick's British counterpart at the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in Porton Down in Wiltshire, England.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences operates China's only known BSL-4 research laboratory, coincidentally or not, at the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, in the same city where the new coronavirus first appeared.

On October 16, 2014, President Barack Obama ordered the severance of federal funding for risky government experimentation that studied certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous. The timing of the White House announcement was odd, considering that it was being reported around the same time that the H1N1 swine influenza "novel" strain was the product of resurrecting the deadly 1918 Spanish flu from DNA extracted by scientists, attached to the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland, from the corpse of a female Inuit teen who died from the disease in 1918. The teen died during the deadly worldwide Spanish flu pandemic.

U.S. government-funded scientists reportedly succeeded in combining the resurrected Spanish flu DNA with other viruses, including swine and avian flu. The White House order in October 2014 asked scientists conducting research on influenza, SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and other coronaviruses such as the Hong Kong and New Haven viruses, to "voluntarily" halt all current research. It is not known how deeply President Obama delved into the work of USAMRIID, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and whether he discover that the Biological Warfare Convention of 1972 was being routinely violated. In addition to H1N1 flu, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were researching ways to make H5N1 avian flu capable of "species jumping" from ferrets to humans.

With a global environment that facilitates the incubation and spreading of dangerous pathogens, the type of moratorium enacted by Obama on making viruses more dangerous should become a worldwide cessation of such research. There is the possibility of accidental release of biological agents. The U.S. record on willfully subjecting populations to dangerous agents and substances is particularly outrageous. There is also the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance with the environment playing a role in the ability of certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites to become resistant to antibiotic, antiviral, and antimalarial treatment.

The U.S. government, with suspicions of CIA involvement, was subjecting African-American to injections with syphilis as late as 1972. The U.S. Public Health Service forced syphilis infection operation was coordinated with Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The Atomic Energy Commission, again, with suspected Central Intelligence Agency involvement, subjected American civilians and military personnel, including the population of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as well as Australian citizens, to radiation experiments as part of Projects SUNSHINE and GABRIEL.

With the possibility that human-engineered or naturally-occurring corona or other viruses could threaten the world with a pandemic, it is sobering to recognize that the Donald Trump administration scrapped the position of the National Security Council position responsible for dealing with the outbreak of a pandemic. In May 2018, Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer and his team were sent packing, leaving the National Security Council without any expertise to deal with either a pandemic or a bio-terrorism attack. Similarly, Trump has taken the budget axe to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, leaving the United States without the critical infrastructure required to deal with a pandemic emergency. Combined with an administration policy that is anti-science in nature, the United States, which once proactively dealt with dangerous disease outbreaks in Africa and elsewhere, is now in a totally reactive and weak position to deal with such emergencies as climate change allows even deadlier pathogens to develop and spread.

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