• Chem-bio weaponsParasites Fight Chemical and Biological Weapons

    Harnessing parasites to help soldiers and first responders counter chemical and biological weapon attacks in war zones.

  • COVID originsVirus Likely Naturally Occurring: NIH

    The NIH says that based on the scientific literature, its view is that “SARS-CoV-2 infection in people most likely resulted from zoonotic transmission from animals to humans.” Current evidence does not support the assertion that the virus was engineered, but the NIH does not rule out the possibility of a laboratory accident, in which a naturally occurring virus was unintentionally released during research activities.

  • COVID originsLab-Leak of Genetically Modified Virus: Lawmakers’ Report

    Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) released on Monday a third installment in his investigation into the origins of the virus. The report says that the preponderance of evidence suggests that the pandemic outbreak stemmed from a genetically modified virus which leaked from Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • COVID originsNatural Origin or Genetic Manipulation? We “Can't Say for Sure Yet”: David Baltimore

    David Baltimore, president emeritus of Caltech and Distinguished Professor of Biology, is a virologist who received the Nobel Prize for his research into viral genetics. He says that “But the fact that evolution might have been able to generate SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t mean that that’s how it came about. I think we very much need to find out what was happening in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I think that we can’t say for sure yet whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from natural origins or if it was genetically manipulated somehow.”

  • Genomic securityChinese Company’s Global Genetic Data Collection Poses Economic, Security Threats: Experts

    By Adrianna Zhang

    A Chinese gene company is collecting genetic data through prenatal tests from women in more than 50 countries— including Germany, Spain and Denmark, as well as in Britain, Canada, Australia, Thailand, India and Pakistan. Collecting the biggest and most diverse set of human genomes could propel China to dominate global pharmaceuticals, and also potentially lead to genetically enhanced soldiers, or engineered pathogens to target the U.S. population or food supply, biosecurity experts told Reuters.

  • Risky bioresearchFifty-Nine Labs around World Handle the Deadliest Pathogens – Only a Quarter Score High on Safety

    By Filippa Lentzos and Gregory Koblentz

    The focal point of this lab-leak discussion is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, nestled in the hilly outskirts of Wuhan. It is just one of 59 maximum containment labs in operation, under construction or planned around the world. Known as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) labs, these are designed and built so that researchers can safely work with the most dangerous pathogens on the planet – ones that can cause serious disease and for which no treatment or vaccines exist. Far from all of these labs score well on safety and security.

  • BiolabsHere’s What Scientists Learn from Studying Dangerous Pathogens in Secure Labs

    By Jerry Malayer

    There are about 1,400 known human pathogens – viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and helminths that can cause a person’s injury or death. But in a world with a trillion individual species of microorganisms, where scientists have counted only one one-thousandth of one percent, how likely is it researchers have discovered and characterized everything that might threaten people? Not very likely at all. And there’s a lot to be gained from knowing these microscopic enemies better.

  • BOOKSHELF: The Anthrax attackInvisible Scourge: The Investigation, Legacy, and Lessons of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks

    By Al Mauroni

    The anthrax incidents of 2001 represented a major milestone for the national security community, in that they highlighted the vulnerabilities of the United States to a very unique domestic threat. While the number of initial casualties were few, the anthrax-filled letters created a nation-wide panic because they were unattributed, and the biological agent was perhaps the most dangerous organism that had been weaponized. This “invisible scourge” also shook the public health community, which was not prepared to respond to deliberate biological threats.

  • ARGUMENT: Covid-19 originsThe Origins of Covid-19 and Preventing the Next Pandemic

    Did COVID-19 originate with bats or scientists? Amanda Moodie and Nicholas Evans write that the desire to identify the origins of the novel coronavirus is perfectly understandable, but that “while answering the question of where the novel coronavirus came from is important, many of the most important policy decisions the United States needs to make to prevent future pandemics do not depend on viral origins.” “there is one important scenario in which it would be absolutely vital to know the origins of COVID-19: If “the pandemic stemmed from a deliberate attempt to develop a biological warfare agent, this would have serious implications for the Biological Weapons Convention and the broader norm against the use of disease as a weapon.”

  • ARGUMENT: Covid-19 origins Is Covid-19 a Bio-Weapon?

    The “racial disparity” of the deaths from Covid should raise alarms.  Not the relatively small differences between white, black and Hispanic death rates in America, but the massive disparity between death rates of East Asian countries, and everyone else on earth. On a per capita basis, non-East Asians are dying at rates 20 times higher that of East Asians. That is not a statistical “blip.” It screams that the virus has massively unequal kill rates - and kills people of different races very differently. That is the signature of a bio-weapon.

  • Food securityNew Biodefense Lab to Focus on Food Security

    The University of Nebraska has launched a 5-year project to help safeguard the U.S. food supply. The project will address agricultural and natural resources security, defense, and countermeasures; biological defense in support of the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and other government stakeholders; development and deployment of biosurveillance, biodetection and diagnostic tools; and pandemic preparedness related to human, livestock and crop plant diseases that could result in disruptions to the U.S. and global food systems.

  • Food securityProtecting the U.S. Food Supply Chain

    An attack on our food supply—whether from intentional tampering, or due to contagious animal disease—could be dangerous to human health and could cause long-lasting economic impacts. DHS S&T is working to protect the U.S. food supply chain – from the farm to the table.

  • China & bioweaponsBiohazard: A Look at China’s Biological Capabilities and the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak

    By Corey Pfluke

    When people think about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), they tend to think of things that go “boom.” The bigger the weapon, the bigger the boom, and the worse the impact. However, not all weapons need a big boom to be effective. Every day, millions of people are affected by a weapon that has the potential to do far more damage than a nuclear bomb, a weapon we cannot see, a weapon we call germs.

  • ARGUMENT: PathogensPathogens Have the World’s Attention

    The novel coronavirus has demonstrated just how devastating a transmissible pathogen can be—and just how difficult to contain. Nathan Levine and Chris Li write that “the sobering truth is that, as deadly diseases go, the world got lucky. The global case fatality rate of COVID-19 is around 2 percent. One need only compare this to SARS (10 percent), smallpox (30 percent), pulmonary anthrax (80 percent), or Ebola (90 percent) to consider that the coronavirus could easily have been much, much worse.”

  • Biological readinessBold Action Can End Era of Pandemic Threats By 2030

    The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense has called on the federal government to urgently implement the recommendations specified in its new report, The Apollo Program for Biodefense: Winning the Race Against Biological Threats. The report details an ambitious program to develop and deploy the technologies needed to defend against all biological threats, empower public health, and prevent pandemics.