Make your own free website on Tripod.com

  [Messageboard] [ Home ] [ Chat! ] [ Career ] [ Humor ] [ Notes/software ] [ Happenings ] [ Movies ] [Book Reviews] [Hiking] [ Feedback ] [Wallpapers] [ Links ] [Email & Directory] [ Archives ] [ About us ]

 

Home
Up

 

Click on any microorganism below, or click on the upward pointing arrow to go to the Main page of the article.

                       

 

Small Pox :

"If you took a gram of smallpox, which is highly contagious and lethal, and for which there’s no vaccine available globally now, and released it in the air and created about a hundred cases, the chances are excellent that the virus would go global in six weeks as people moved from city to city……the death toll could easily hit the hundreds of millions…..in scale, that’s like a nuclear war."

-Richard Preston, the alarmist, again.

THE most serious biological weapon. With most countries having NO smallpox vaccine stocks and with the general immunity against smallpox almost non-existent, an outbreak of small pox (especially of a genetically modified strain with greater infectivity and mortality) would lead to a catastrophe unparalleled in history.

                                                    
Images : Sequential progress of smallpox lesions. Please click on the images to view larger versions. The new pictures will open in a separate window.

 


Image : Without question the most disturbing clinical photo I have ever seen. Click on the photo to view a larger version.

 

Most Biological scientists find the contention that Smallpox virus is stored in only two laboratories in the world ( CDC, Atlanta and Institute of Viral Precaustions, Moscow)) laughable. The former USSR had an extensive biological program in which smallpox figured prominently. According to Ken Alibek ( the no.2 scientist in the USSR program, who subsequently defected to the US) : "Iran, Iraq, probably Libya, probably Syria, and North Korea could have smallpox"

Even more alarmingly, Ken Alibek disclosed that Russian scientists have manufactured various recombinant viruses. eg. A Ebola-SmallPox hybrid which was known as ebolapox and a VenuzuelanEncephaitis-Smallpox hybrid which was known as VeePox.

These "chimerical" organisms as they are called are *much* more infective and have a *much* greater case fatality rate than either of the original organisms.The discussion below is limited to the SmallPox virus in its natural state and not to the frighteningly real "Chimeras" :

 

Manufacturing Ease:

Small pox is relatively easy to cultivate in a lab. However, since it is a virus, it's definitely more difficult to do so as compared to anthrax.
Furthermore, its would be obviously very difficult to get your hands on a vial full of smallpox viruses to start off your cultivation in the first place.
Hence, if you planning to become a bioterrorist when you grow up, I don't think you are going to be pleased with the score in this category..

 

 

Ease of Delivery:

Sorry... no outstanding marks here either... Smallpox being a virus, obviously does not have spores, and the viruses themselves are quite susceptible to adverse environmental conditions and require a special medium and temperature. 
Russian missiles designed to carry these bioweapons into enemy territory had refrigerated warheads to protect the viruses from the heat of re-entry into the atmosphere.

 

 


Infectivity:

Aha! Here is where the attraction of this bug as a bioterrorist weapon lies: Smallpox, unlike Anthrax, CAN be transmitted from person to person. And consider this.. Smallpox is as contagious as chicken pox. And we all know how contagious chicken pox is don't we?
And oh of course, considering the fact that no one has had an attack of small pox or has been immunised in the world in the past 21 years ( in 1980, the world was declared free from small pox by the WHO) many many more people will be susceptible to small pox as compared to chicken pox.
Much as I hate it, I have to give full marks to he bug here.. Although the rating here reads 5/5 it should probably be 10/5 or something in that range.


Mortaility:

Before 1980, the mortality rate of smallpox was around 30-50% i.e. 30-50 of every 100 people infected with smallpox died.
It is *impossible* to make an estimation of the mortality rate now, since it would be higher with the newer artificial variants of the virus and because of the unknown immune status of the majority of the population. Obviously, ALL the antibiotics are useless against smallpox since it is caused by a virus.
However, since we have to give some sort of rating to the bug here, we will choose to ignore this factors, and base our assessment on the deadliness of the bug before it was "eradicated"

The danger with smallpox (at least with the natural version of the disease) does not lie in its case fatality rate. The danger lies in its incredible contagiousness. 

 

Interesting Facts :
1) In 2000, CDC awarded a contract to Oravax of Cambridge, Massachusetts to produce smallpox vaccine. Initially producing 40 million doses, Oravax anticipates delivery of the first full scale production lots in 2004.

2) In May 1999, WHO granted another stay on the destruction of the remaining known stocks of the SmallPox virus until 30 June 2002.The stocks were due to have been destroyed in 1993, and again in 1995, but each time scientists pleaded that they needed to continue studying them.

3) Total current estimated stocks of Smallpox vaccines in the WORLD  :
         50-100 million.
    Total estimated population of the world:
        
6 Billion ( or 6000 Million)
    
    Time taken to manufacture new stocks of Vaccines: 
     
            
        24-36 months (2-3 years)
    Estimated time taken by a smallpox epidemic to reach global proportions: 
        6-8 weeks (1- 2 months)

* All figures, except the last, have been reproduced from Center for Civilian Biodefense studies, a US govt. organization. The last statistic is an estimate by Richard Preston, who is quite an pessimist really... but then .. how off the mark can he be? Even if you double or treble his estimate, it will only take around 5 months for the disease to become global, in which time NO new stocks of vaccine can be manufactured. 

 

4) Operation Dark Winter :

This was a very large simulated test conducted by the US Govt. in June 2001 in collaboration with many of the prominent Universities in the US, including Johns Hopkins which is the top ranked Univ. in the US in the field of Biology. A FULL copy of the exercise can be downloaded from the "Free Reading Material" section. It reads almost like a story book, with details about the political conditions in Iraq, conditions preceding the bioterrorist attack etc..

 

 

In short : A bioterrorist attack with a small number of smallpox virii occurs in the US on December1. By December. 22 , the total number of cases in the US alone is 16,000 and vaccine stocks are rapidly decreasing. The disease starts spreading globally.
By the end of January, the no of small pox cases is 3 million in the US alone. ALL of the vaccine in the world has been exhausted, except for some US military stocks. Russia, China and other countries strenuously demand that the US release these stocks on humanitarian grounds. All of the American citizens have NOT been immunized.

At this stage, the exercise was discontinued, probably since there was no point in going further.