COVID-19 Mysteries Underscore Need for Better Biomedical Intel.

Author:Girod, Robert J.

The coronavirus pandemic is a story which evolves every day with new facts, statistics and revelations coming almost hourly.

Allegations of cover-up and undeclared importations have made intriguing nuances to this international crisis. Biological and medical intelligence is aimed at the collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence data on biological and medical threats. This includes chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear issues that affect national security and homeland security detection, deterrence, response and mitigation.

U.S. intelligence, defense and law enforcement communities face tremendous challenges from weapons of mass destruction. The novel coronavirus may be one of these challenges. Declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, COVID-19 originated in China and is a cousin of the SARS virus. Coronaviruses are a large group of animal-borne viruses that can make people sick.

There are four types of biological agents or biological weapons: viruses, bacteria, plagues, and natural poisons or toxins that occur without modification. Modern WMD biological weapon types are either bacterial weapons or viral weapons, with microbes cultured and refined--weaponized--to increase their killing abilities.

Antibiotics may be effective against bacterial weapons, but bacterial weapons programs often create strains of microbes that are resistant to such drugs.

Antibiotics are usually not effective in treating viral weapons (viruses), although there may be vaccines that can be effective if administered before exposure to the viral agent. Biological agents are difficult to control but relatively easy to produce.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists several threatening agents:

Anthrax is a spore-forming bacterium or bacterial disease affecting the skin and lungs.

Botulism has toxins which attack the nerves.

Hemorrhagic fever interferes with the blood's ability to clot.

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants; there is no treatment or cure, but a vaccine can prevent it.

Plague is an infection of the lungs caused by a bacteria and can be spread by infected fleas.

Tularemia is an infection that attacks the skin, eyes, lymph nodes and lungs.

Glanders, a zoonotic disease caused by a bacterial infections occurring in horses, mules and donkeys, which can be contracted by other animals and humans.

Q fever, or query fever, is a bacterial infection found in cattle, sheep and goats and...

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