Airborne bioweapons refer to the application of biological toxins or some agents considered to be infectious with the purpose of killing or incapacitating humans, animals or plants (Committee on Environmental Health, & Committee on Infectious Diseases, 2000). This is done as an act of war and some of the infectious agents that are used include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Often, the biological weapons are known to replicate in their host victims. In most cases, they are called bio-weapons or bio-agents. In most of the known occasions, biological weapons are often applied in several ways to assist in gaining a strategic or tactical advantage over the enemy. This happens either through threats or even by having real deployments in place. Just like some of the chemical weapons, it is known that biological weapons are critical in the area denial weapons. The agents can either be lethal or non-lethal. The targets vary and include single persons, a group of individuals or even a whole populace. Bioweapons can either be industrialized, acquired or even installed by countries or by non-national groups (Ellison, 2007). In situations where the nation states deploy the bioweapons without going through standard procedures then it can be referred to as bioterrorism.
Explain all possible threats
Biological weapons offer the different terrorist groups and certain misguided states such as Iraq and North Korea a chance to attack some of the countries with military superiority like the United States and the other nuclear powers. In most of the biological warfare programs, anthrax is the main agent used. The anthrax bacteria are known for the production of very harmful spores and when inhaled in large amounts can lead to a disease known as inhalation anthrax (Inglesby et al., 1999). This disease is harmful and can only be treated using large doses of penicillin right after one is exposed. The anthrax spores can easily be produced and remain feasible for almost a century when they are kept dry and in places where they are free from direct sunlight exposure (Inglesby et al., 1999). They are known to have long shelf life hence they remain best suited as a weapon in any device that can deliver a widespread aerosol. Additionally, anthrax can easily and safely be handled. The airborne spores in several instances are infectious until the moment they land on the ground, where quite a number are inactivated by sunlight. Anthrax is not so much communicable and this ends up in reducing the risk that it can spread beyond the reasonable set target (Inglesby et al., 1999). Additionally, there is a proper and trusted vaccine that can be applied to help in the prevention of the disease hence making its use by the aggressor to be successful.
There is a threat of black biology. In this case, microorganisms are genetically engineered for the main reason to create novel weapons of terror. The thought that any person can prepare the stuff is enough to scare every other person. Through technology, genes can be inserted into individuals DNA which can either be good or bad. The tragic thing is that the genetic maps of deadly viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms are in existence to the public. The other threat is that a scientist who wants to facilitate destruction can use the information of mapping genomes to attempt to clone some of the very virulent strains of bacteria and viruses.
Also, there are several microbiologists who are not properly remunerated and can offer to work with some of the crooked agents to come up with incurable designer diseases like penicillin-resistant anthrax or even come up with some of the stealth viruses. The effect of these is that they affect the host but notably remain still until the point when they are activated using some form of external trigger like being exposed to a chemical considered harmless.
The other existing threat is the terrorist threat. Even though there has been increased concern about the increasing number of bioweapons in Iraq and other nations, there is a belief that greater threat is presented by terrorist groups that could be volunteering to risk an out-of-control epidemic and ready to suffer casualties for the purpose of what may be termed as good cause. One good example of this situation is the 1995 sarin gas attack that happened in the Tokyo subway and was facilitated by a Japanese. This assault led to the death of 13 persons and many other thousands were hospitalized. The attack happened after several botched anthrax assaults near the Tokyo airport. There are certain groups such as Aum Shinrikyo that are ready and willing to apply the biological agents inefficiently because of terror and propaganda value. In case anthrax is released indiscriminately in a major U.S city and produced only a few cases, the publicity fear, and disruption that may arise bring about the known effect.
The economic effect of bioweapons very dire as there are net savings involved when the likely deaths are subverted. The net savings is a function of deaths averted and the likely cost that would be involved in case hospitalization is averted. This means that in the case where there are successful attacks, costs involved include the deaths, costs of hospitalization and the number of outpatient visits.
The bioweapons end up spreading a few infectious diseases that when addressed in the right way can help prevent some of the likely disasters. In fact, the effect on humans is dire as the country affected is likely to have their labor force affected or sick hence hindering productivity or reducing the production level.
The use of bioweapons without approval especially by the international standards end up leading to constrained relationships among countries or even affect the political ideology and relationships that may exist between the affected countries or parties (Eickhoff, 1996).
One of the policies that need to be put in place is increasing the programs that are aimed at deploying more of the biological weapons. Having this kind of programs will help the United States to combat bioterrorism that deploys similar gadgets (Eickhoff, 1996).
Also, as part of its program, there is a need for the countries involved to increase their funding allocation in support of combating both the chemical and biological warfare (Eickhoff, 1996). In fact, a good proportion of the money needs to be added each year to ensure that the anti-terrorist intelligence effort and the emergency response are at par.
The other policy that needs to be considered is an expansion of the bioterrorist research to ensure that it becomes useful to the individuals (Oconnell, Menuey & Foster, 2002). The research should have clear goals with its intention including assessing the capability of the enemy, understanding the things that motivate the enemy, and comparing the capabilities with the existing vulnerabilities. Having all this considered will for sure help the countries involved. There is need to control some of the potential hostile toxin research programs. This can be done by accredited institutions or bodies.
Consequences of Policies
The policies passed have both economic and political consequences. For economic reasons, the policies passed will be helpful as they will ensure that minimal amount of money goes to taking care of hospital bills for those affected by bioweapons (Eickhoff, 1996). Having the policies in place ensures that a country only spends on what is required to combat any form of chemical or biological toxins. Proper research ensures that the actual threat is identified and the extent or degree of the threat is assessed accordingly. Whether the threat is real or not can be told at least when proper training is offered to individuals. Understanding threat means that bioterrorism can then be effectively countered. Also, the other positive side of the increased research in the area is that it ensures that a country remains politically right owing to the technological advancement. Technology is shaping every aspect of livelihood among persons in the world today.
Controlling of the research may result in tensions among countries of interest and hence create a bad relationship (Eickhoff, 1996). In the long run, the political and economic ties that such countries enjoy may end up being jeopardized.
Committee on Environmental Health, & Committee on Infectious Diseases. (2000). Chemical-biological terrorism and its impact on children: a subject review. Pediatrics, 105(3), 662-670.
Eickhoff, T. C. (1996). Airborne disease: including chemical and biological warfare. American journal of epidemiology, 144(Supplement 8), S39-S46.
Ellison, D. H. (2007). Handbook of chemical and biological warfare agents. CRC press.
Inglesby, T. V., Henderson, D. A., Bartlett, J. G., Ascher, M. S., Eitzen, E., Friedlander, A. M., ... & Parker, G. (1999). Anthrax as a biological weapon: medical and public health management. Jama, 281(18), 1735-1745.
Oconnell, K. P., Menuey, B. C., & Foster, D. (2002). Issues in preparedness for biologic terrorism: a perspective for critical care nursing. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 13(3), 452-469.
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