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A terrorist's bioweapon could kill millions — and there's little we can do to stop it

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The Hill

A terrorist's bioweapon could kill millions — and there's little we can do to stop it

By Dr. Marc Siegel, opinion contributor

The nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea have been a primary concern to world security for more than a decade. But there is another significant worldwide threat to consider — bioweapons. And with the advent of genetic editing — where the DNA or RNA of a virus or bacteria can be modified to form a deadly weapon — the terrorist arsenal of weapons could be about to change for the worse.

Biological agents have long been a concern for national security. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to five news media outlets and two Senate offices, killing five people and infecting 17. That case led to a focus on anthrax as a weapon and, at first, to fears that Al Qaida, Iraq or another foreign enemy was behind the anthrax attacks.

The threat of further “anthrax letters” or a wider foreign attack never materialized, however. And in fact, as I wrote in “False Alarm: the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear,” there are reasons that an anthrax threat is limited, beginning with the fact that the bacteria is not contagious. Not only that, but a warhead containing anthrax would destroy the bacteria on impact because of the amount of heat released in the explosion. And if anthrax was spread by terrorists on the ground, there is an anthrax vaccine which could be utilized to help control an outbreak as well as the resulting public fear.

Read more: https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/451899-a-terrorists-bioweapon-could-kill-millions-and-theres-little-we-can-do-to