The Deadly Virus COVID-19 has created havoc in the whole world claiming lakhs of lives even powerful governments around the world have failed to curb the virus. It’s going more than a year since this virus has engulfed us. Amidst the deadly outbreak, there have been discussions and a sense of curiosity and conspiracy theories have been developed that Is COVID-19 a Bio Weapon?
Understanding Biological Warfare and Bio-Weapons
Biological Warfare is one of the lethal means of warfare yet remains largely untouched or the normal public is still unfamiliar with this concept of warfare. Biological Warfare is a type of unconventional warfare where deadly or harmful microorganisms such as viruses and Bacteria are released to cause panic, harm to the enemy nation. Essentially, biological warfare is aimed to inflict a mass number of causalities to put the enemy nation in the breakdown or panic mode and it is also aimed to bring economic and societal devastation to the enemy nation.
Target Areas: Battlefields
Biological Weapons are primarily released on Battlefields to cause severe damage to enemy troops and also in Area Denial Operations where Bio-Weapons are released in specific areas to prevent enemy troops to enter that particular marked area.
Bio-Weapons are also used against humans or the public of targeted/enemy nations to bring all-around devastation ranging from population panic, deaths to economic, infrastructure, and societal devastation.
Strategic Intent Behind Biological Warfare
Strategically looking Biological Warfare is waged to bring huge economic and military gaps between nations and alter the balance of power between them.
Understanding The Mechanism
Mechanism of Biological Warfare is one of the most important part which involves the release of Bio Agents/Weapon( Virus, Bacteria Fungus Protozoa, etc) Bio Agents are deployed using two means:
a weaponized delivery system such as launching missiles, bombs containing Bio-Agent/Weapon, or any other similar mechanism. The weaponized mechanism is generally used during wartime on battlefields.
On other hand, the nonweaponized mechanism is also used to launch bio-agents like releasing them into adversary’s(Enemy Nation) natural resources such as river so that river gets contaminated with the virus and further, transmit to the civilian population or sending an infected parcel to the adversary’s city so it can spread throughout the city Usually Non-Weaponized Mechanism is in the fashion because it fits with the daily affairs of the public and easily targets them like as said couriers, food, objects and through injections which are in proximity to the normal public and spreading rate/transmission of the virus through a non-weaponized mechanism is considered to be high as it directly hits the civilian population.
Rallying Between Questions
Two Question surely arises after understanding a bit concept of the biological warfare and considering the present situation:
1)Is COVID-19 A Deliberative Attempt of China To Wage Biological Warfare to alter Balance of Power and Bring Economic Gaps?
2) Can COVID-19 Be Constituted as A Bio Weapon?
COVID-19 From Biological Warfare Lense
The First Question says COVID-19 A Biological Warfare Attempt from China the answer to this question is a straightaway No. COVID-19 Is not an attempt of waging Biological Warfare because the target areas for Bio-Weapons are already set they always get released in a specific region, territory, or country and not released to bring pandemics. The Infection and Transmission of released bioagent are generally limited to the particular country or territory and there are least chances that it spreads outside the planned area similar to the case of Ebola which was almost confined to some geographical areas only. There is no more thing to be understood that COVID-19 naturally develops itself to various mutants and showed varied impact on various geographies but during Biological Warfare the impact is in one go. Although the situation is looking like that there is a bio attack that took place in various parts of the world like population panic, tragic deaths high transmission rates, etc but in reality it just like a pandemic that knocked on our doors after ages. Therefore it is not fit to compare a natural outbreak of virus with an intent of waging Biological Warfare. Moreover, there are some strict International Laws and resolutions under UNSC(1507) which declares the usage of Bio-Weapons as War Crime and designated Bio-Weapons as Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD) all this has made chances of possession of bioweapons almost negligible to Nations but there are some powerful countries who clandestinely develop bioweapons.
COVID-19 A Possible Bio Weapon?
The Second Question gives a taste of bit contradiction to answer to the first question but ultimately the answer to the second question is also a “NO” because collectively COVID-19 does not constitute or possess all the features of Bio-Weapons though it does possess some of it which very initial or ordinary. Now, let’s understand What are the main features of a classical Bio Weapon:
5- Stability In Air
6- Easy To Access And Manufacture
Out of 6 COVID-19 holds 5 characteristics( Creating Population Panic, Highly Contagious High Rate of Transmission and Infectivity and now it is airborne and can be stable in air for a brief time) However, it lacks the last but no the least characteristic which is Easy to Access And Manufactuer. This characteristic is one of the major characteristics which is needed to develop a full-fledged Bio Weapon. A Bio Weapon has to be accessible and easy to manufacture but in the case of COVID-19 it is not that possible to access and manufacture the virus, Even Some Experts say that COVID-19 is a naturally developed Virus and rule out the possibilities of manmade bioweapon. Generally for Bio-Weapons Virus are manufactured using the fermentation process sand cell structure study but it does seem to be happening in the case of COVID-19 Hence, it can be said that COVID-19 partially resembles the features of Bio Weapon but it cannot be called a full-fledged Bio Weapon because It does not satisfy some of the needed characteristics of Bio Weapon.
Biological Weapon Attacks Incident: The 2001 Attacks
One of the most famous incidents of the Bio Weapon Attack happened one week after 9/11 in the United States where a letter containing deadly bacteria(Anthrax) spores were sent to high-profile people(Senators) and media houses that killed five people and infected 17people. Later on, in 2008, it was found that a scientist was behind carrying out the attack who later committed suicide. Anthrax Samples were found in his lab.
Ban on Bio-Weapons
As said UNSC Resolution prohibits the use development/stockpiling of Bio-Weapons even the Biological Warfare Convention 1972 says that No Country can consider Biological Weapons as valid means of Defence and even they cant consider Bio-Weapons as Valid Means of Deterrence However Unfortunately Some Countries are secretly indulged in making Bio-Weapons although the use of Bio-Weapons in today’s time is almost negligible however the emergence of Violent Non-State Actors like Terror Groups have increased the risk of Bio-Terrorism(falling of bioweapons in hands of terror groups) and hence we cannot completely rule out the risk or threat of Biological Warfare/Attacks. However on the other hand various countries have developed Bio Defences and their Public Health Surveillance System to combat the Biowarfare threat effectively.
India and CBRN Threat
India is effectively investing in combatting the CBRN Threat( Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Threat(CBRN) The DRDO is effectively building various detection and defensive mechanism to make India capable of fighting such threats like building Residual Vapour Detection (RVD) Kit Automatic Chemical Agent Detector & Alarm (ACADA) and Chemical agent Monitor (CAM) and other essentials required to fight with Nuclear Biological Threats.