There is a long history of people trying to win wars using bioweapons, but due to what Boe calls the ‘vector problem,’ this has rarely been successful in the past. A vector refers to the method of deployment; how the bioweapon goes from point A to point B. However, with the increase of technology, disseminating bioweapons is becoming less of an issue. For example, any plane being used to spray insecticides could be repurposed as a bioweapon vector. Perhaps the most worrisome vector are humans themselves. Humans can incubate any biological agent, thus avoiding detection, and spread it to those they contact. This has been frequently seen when researchers in labs dealing with smallpox or ebola have unconsciously become vectors. In biological warfare, one can be both knowingly and unknowingly a vector.
Within the last thirty years, biological sciences have advanced thanks to foundational technologies. For example, CRISPR, which is a family of DNA sequences, has accelerated the timeline of modifying genes from years to weeks and months. It is already being used to alleviate genetic disorders, aid vaccine research, and even treat cancer. Whilst it could be used as a bioweapon, the benefits of it are so great that it could almost be considered immoral to leave it shelved away.
When asked about the theory that Covid-19 was purposefully created as a bioweapon, Dr. Boe admitted that there could be some truth to this. However, what he thinks is more concerning than such claims is the global response to the pandemic, and the example that this has set to future global emergencies. With people hesitant to follow government guidelines, and the ever-present refusal to wear masks or follow social distancing protocols, it would be incredibly easy for a bioweapon in the form of a virus to spread.
It’s easier now than ever for governments to develop their own bioweapons. They are the primary sponsors for the most research in this field, and control thousands of laboratories. Essentially, any government could be knowingly or unknowingly sponsoring the creation of bioweapons without too much effort. Medical corporations also conduct their own research on the matter and so do biohackers, which construct the third most active group in the field.The Biological Convention of 1972 — which meets every 5 years — clearly tackles the issue and diminishes these organisations power by prohibiting bioweapons and has multiple alleged non-compliances. Yet, there are no means to verify this, and it currently operates on a code of honour.
Towards the end of his presentation, Dr. Boe was asked about gain of function research. To what degree should governments try before terrorists? His answer was simple: “to a point.” This demonstrated how extensively problematic bioweapons are, due to their thoroughly recent discovery and the rate by which they advance.
2 minute read.