Skip to main content

5:56 PM 3/29/2020 - Coronavirus Deaths in Germany: Is there a different, less virulent strain of the virus?! Did we do the comparison studies?



https://fbinewsreview.blogspot.com/2020/03/556-pm-3292020-coronavirus-deaths-in.html

Coronavirus Deaths in Germany: Is there a different, less virulent strain of the virus?! Did we do the comparison studies? I do not see them. We should: it would be the key explanation and the lead. Test this hypothesis!

-
-

#CDC #WHO #NIH #NIAID
#Coronavirus #Deaths in #Germany: Is there a different, #lessvirulent #strain of the #virus?! Did we do the #comparisonstudies? I do not see them. We should: it would be the #key #explanation and the #lead. #Test this #hypothesis!

If there is a variety of Coronavirus strains in various countries, and if they correlate with the deseases of various severity, and if these various strains can be traced down to individual human donors-bombs, then it will be the preliminary proof , that this infection is spread deliberately, with less severe strains for the certain protected locations, and more severe for the aggressively targeted locations. 
This has to be checked out! 

Michael Novakhov | 5:56 PM 3/29/2020 
___________________________________________________________

 Audio News: | VOA Newscasts | NPR News Now |  NPR News Now On RSS Dog | 
Michael Novakhov - SharedNewsLinks℠
Opinion | Germany Has Relatively Few Deaths From Coronavirus. Why?
The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more | Homeland Security Newswire
The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more | Homeland Security Newswire
U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic
The coronavirus is the worst intelligence failure in US history | Micah Zenko | Opinion
Bioterrorism - Wikipedia
Bioterrorism - Wikipedia
How to keep the new coronavirus from being used as a terrorist weapon
Biopreparedness in the Age of Genetically Engineered Pathogens and Open Access Science: An Urgent Need for a Paradigm Shift | Military Medicine | Oxford Academic
MacIntyre: Biopreparedness in the age of genetically... - Google Scholar
The assessment of Coronavirus Pandemic and the U.S. Epidemic as the event of bio-terrorism
If we make a ballpark assessment, rating each criterion as indication of the bio-terrorism on the simple mild – moderate – severe type of scale, almost all of them will be in the severe range in assessment of Coronavirus Pandemic and the U.S. Epidemic as the event of bio-terrorism.  | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions
Table 5: Assessment of the tularemia epidemic in Kosovo: non-conclusive criteria
A procedure for differentiating between the intentional release of biological warfare agents and natural outbreaks of disease: its use in analyzing the tularemia outbreak in Kosovo in 1999 and 2000 - Clinical Microbiology and Infection
Application of a Risk Analysis Tool to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) Outbreak in Saudi Arabia - Chen - - Risk Analysis
Risk Analysis: An International Journal : SRA
28/03/20 10:59 from #TWEETS BY @MIKENOV from #mikenov #FBI, #CIA #DIA #ODNI #US #UN #Investigate #Germany, #Russia, & #Ukraine & their Intelligence Services in starting #Coronavirus #Biowarfare! #Ruslandia und #Khokhlandia, #PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!!! Und ZUZ Zpoke #Zarathustra -...
What we don’t yet know about the coronavirus
COVID-19: The Best (Worst?) Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News
Univ. of Washington researchers predict 80000 COVID-19 deaths in US by July
Covid Deniers: How shadowy social media groups are spreading myths and conspiracy about ...
Justice Department should charge intentional coronavirus spreaders as terrorists (opinion)
Justice Department should charge intentional coronavirus spreaders as terrorists
NYPD headquarters employee dead from coronavirus complications
 _____________________________________________
Michael Novakhov - SharedNewsLinks℠
Opinion | Germany Has Relatively Few Deaths From Coronavirus. Why?

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

First and foremost: Early and persistent testing helps. And so does tracking people.
Take the country’s first recorded case. On Jan. 28, a man in Bavaria who works for a car parts company that has two plants in Wuhan, China, was confirmed to have the virus. Within two days, the authorities identified the person who had infected the patient, tracked his contacts and quarantined them. The company stopped travel to China and shut down its plant in Bavaria. The outbreak — several other employees tested positive — was effectively contained. Across the country, the pattern was repeated. Local health departments and federal authorities worked together to test, track and quarantine exposed citizens.
Germany has also been better at protecting its older residents, who are at much greater risk. States banned visits to the elderly, and policymakers issued urgent warnings to limit contact with older people. Many seem to have quarantined themselves. The results are clear: Patients over the age of 80 make up around 3 percent of the infected, though they account for 7 percent of the population. The median age for those infected is estimated to be 46; in Italy, it’s 63.
And many more young people in Germany have tested positive for the virus than in other countries. In part, that’s attributable to the country’s more extensive testing. But there’s also an element of chance and culture. Germany is a skiing nation — around 14.5 million Germans go skiing every year — and the Austrian and northern Italian Alps are popular locations. This year, after vacationers traveled to one of the centers of the European outbreak, Tyrol, they seemed to bring back the virus with them — and spread it.
Closer to home, there’s carnival. One of the most substantial early outbreaks occurred at one of the centers of carnival, which involves parades and parties, popular with the young. Hundreds of cases seem to be traceable to a couple who took part in festivities in the town of Langbroich. “Both skiing and carnival may have affected the low average age of the first wave of confirmed cases,” said Karl Lauterbach, a physician and a member of the Bundestag.
Both early testing and incubation of the virus among the young go part of the way in explaining why the country’s fatality rate is so comparatively low. “It’s how much and whom we test,” Martin Stürmer, a virologist who is the director of a lab that is running coronavirus testing in Frankfurt, told me. In general, countries that test less and reserve it for those already very ill, like Italy, have higher fatality rates.
The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more | Homeland Security Newswire

Opinion | Germany Has Relatively Few Deaths From Coronavirus. Why?

1 Share
First and foremost: Early and persistent testing helps. And so does tracking people.
Take the country’s first recorded case. On Jan. 28, a man in Bavaria who works for a car parts company that has two plants in Wuhan, China, was confirmed to have the virus. Within two days, the authorities identified the person who had infected the patient, tracked his contacts and quarantined them. The company stopped travel to China and shut down its plant in Bavaria. The outbreak — several other employees tested positive — was effectively contained. Across the country, the pattern was repeated. Local health departments and federal authorities worked together to test, track and quarantine exposed citizens.
Germany has also been better at protecting its older residents, who are at much greater risk. States banned visits to the elderly, and policymakers issued urgent warnings to limit contact with older people. Many seem to have quarantined themselves. The results are clear: Patients over the age of 80 make up around 3 percent of the infected, though they account for 7 percent of the population. The median age for those infected is estimated to be 46; in Italy, it’s 63.
And many more young people in Germany have tested positive for the virus than in other countries. In part, that’s attributable to the country’s more extensive testing. But there’s also an element of chance and culture. Germany is a skiing nation — around 14.5 million Germans go skiing every year — and the Austrian and northern Italian Alps are popular locations. This year, after vacationers traveled to one of the centers of the European outbreak, Tyrol, they seemed to bring back the virus with them — and spread it.
Closer to home, there’s carnival. One of the most substantial early outbreaks occurred at one of the centers of carnival, which involves parades and parties, popular with the young. Hundreds of cases seem to be traceable to a couple who took part in festivities in the town of Langbroich. “Both skiing and carnival may have affected the low average age of the first wave of confirmed cases,” said Karl Lauterbach, a physician and a member of the Bundestag.
Both early testing and incubation of the virus among the young go part of the way in explaining why the country’s fatality rate is so comparatively low. “It’s how much and whom we test,” Martin Stürmer, a virologist who is the director of a lab that is running coronavirus testing in Frankfurt, told me. In general, countries that test less and reserve it for those already very ill, like Italy, have higher fatality rates.

The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more | Homeland Security Newswire

1 Share
·  Self-Isolation Might Stop Coronavirus, but It Will Speed the Spread of Extremism
·  The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History
·  Fiona Hill: Trump’s Coronavirus Talk Sounds a Lot Like Russia’s
·  The Intelligence Contest in Cyberspace
·  White House Releases National Strategy for 5G Security
·  DOD Official: “Adversarial Capital” Threatens Industrial Base
·  Inside the Pentagon’s Lurching Efforts to Protect Its People from the Coronavirus
·  Brazil Transforms Sports Venues into Field Hospitals for Coronavirus
·  Social Media Sees Virus Solidarity Bloom in U.K.
·  The Value of Science for Critical Decisions
·  After Putin’s Big Fail, Russia Braces for COVID-19 Onslaught
·  How the Pandemic Will End
·  American Exceptionalism Can’t Beat a Pandemic
·  The Death of American Competence
·  Chinese Hackers Attacked Foreign Health Care, Military, Oil Networks as Coronavirus Hit China
·  This Is Just the Beginning
·  Yes, Blame China for the Virus
·  “Last Resort”: Alabama’s Plan for Deciding Which Coronavirus Patients Get Ventilators
·  Homeland Security Warns Terrorists May Exploit COVID-19 Pandemic (
·  Antarctic Glacier Retreats Nearly 3 Miles, Could Foreshadow Huge Sea Level Rise
·  Fauci: Trump’s Remarks Can Lead to “Misunderstandings”
·  White supremacists discussed using the coronavirus as a bioweapon, explosive internal document reveals
·  DHS Chief: False Reports of National Shutdown May Be Part of Russian Disinformation Campaign
·  As the West Panics, Putin Is Watching
·  The Russians Are Coming Again, and They’re Winning
·  Coronavirus Confinement Challenges Intelligence Services
·  Russia’s Long-Term Campaign of Disinformation in Europe
·  The U.S. Military’s Behind-the-Scenes Moves to Protect Nuclear Readiness Amid Coronavirus
·  China Borrowing Russian Tactics to Spread Coronavirus Disinformation
·  Russia Has New Tool for Massive Internet Shutdown Attack, Leaked Documents Claim
·  All Hands on Deck: Infosec Volunteers to Protect Medical Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis
·  The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America
·  Dozens of Connecticut Officials Were Involved in CDC Drill Last Year that Revealed Problems with Response to a Pandemic
·  Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?
·  Researchers Kickstart Huge Study of Malaria Drug to Prevent Coronavirus
·  How Do You Spy When the World Is Shut Down?
·  Global Tension Points to a Future of Destructive Malware
Self-Isolation Might Stop Coronavirus, but It Will Speed the Spread of Extremism (Nikita Malik, Foreign Affairs)
Millions of people stuck at home will turn to social media, where disinformation is rife. Radical Islamists and far-right groups are exploiting widespread confusion and fear to spread hate.

It’s more glaring than Pearl Harbor and 9/11—and it’s all the fault of Donald Trump’s leadership.
Fiona Hill: Trump’s Coronavirus Talk Sounds a Lot Like Russia’s (Eleanor Clift and Adam Rawnsley, Daily Beast)Into an already toxic brew of political discord and hyperventilating social media, a pathogen of foreign origin arrives. To fight it, the country must unite. At the same time, the coronavirus makes us more vulnerable to manipulation, especially if people are scared and nobody seems to have good answers.
Some of that manipulation is from Russia, and some from China, and while the two countries are “not working in close cooperation, they are working in concert because they have similar goals,” said Fiona Hill, former national security official and Russia expert in the Trump White House. 
Hill gained public notice when she testified before Congress last year on how a “domestic political errand” about Donald Trump’s potential challenger hijacked U.S. policy toward Russia and Ukraine.
The Intelligence Contest in Cyberspace (Joshua Rovner, Lawfare)
The ongoing competition in cyberspace is largely an intelligence contest. Although the technology is different, the underlying contest exhibits all the characteristics of traditional spy-versus-spy battles.
White House Releases National Strategy for 5G Security (Brandi Vincent, Defense One)
The strategy focuses on four lines of effort and will guide how the government approaches 5G for the near future.
DOD Official: “Adversarial Capital” Threatens Industrial Base (Lauren C. Williams, FCW)
The Defense Department is concerned that foreign investment will take advantage of small businesses in the defense industrial base reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellen Lord, DOD’s top acquisition executive, told reporters March 25 the defense industrial base, which consists of more than 300,000 companies, is “vulnerable to adversarial capital,” and DOD wants them to “stay in business without losing their technology” or be subject to intellectual property theft.
“The foreign investment issue is something that I have been tracking for the last couple years. There is no question that we have adversarial capital coming into our markets through nefarious means,” Lord said.
Read the whole story

· · · · ·

The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more | Homeland Security Newswire

1 Share

The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America | The Death of American Competence | How the Pandemic Will End, and more

Inside the Pentagon’s Lurching Efforts to Protect Its People from the Coronavirus(Katie Bo Williams, Defense One)
As the alarms rose in February and early March, lower-echelon commanders wondered what to do. Some servicemembers blame leaders who took their cues from the White House.
Brazil Transforms Sports Venues into Field Hospitals for Coronavirus(Michael Brown, VOA)
One of the most famous stadiums in Latin America is being transformed into a field hospital to treat patients infected with coronavirus in Brazil.
The Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, home to Olympics and World Cup contests, is among a group of stadiums and convention centers that will be used to accommodate the growing number of coronavirus cases in Brazil.
Social Media Sees Virus Solidarity Bloom in U.K.(Charlotte Durand, AFP)
Help groups on social media are connecting people with those most in need during the coronavirus lockdown, fostering a community spirit often neglected in the capital’s fast-paced life.
The Value of Science for Critical Decisions(Reto Knutti, ETH Zurich)
We were poorly prepared for this pandemic and reacted too hesitantly, despite warnings from experts. Nonetheless, the response to the coronavirus strikingly shows how as a society we are capable of reacting to a threat collectively, in a coordinated way and in a spirit of solidarity. And that’s encouraging. Coronavirus won’t be the last crisis. From this, we can learn to take global threats seriously and to act proactively on the basis of scientific facts.
After Putin’s Big Fail, Russia Braces for COVID-19 Onslaught(Julia Davis, Daily Beast)
The official bulletin about the coronavirus, released by Russia’s federal agency Rospotrebnadzor on March 24, states that more than 112,074 people remain under medical supervision.
How the Pandemic Will End(Ed Young, The Atlantic)
The U.S. May End Up with the Worst COVID-19 Outbreak in the Industrialized World. This Is How It’s Going to Play Out.
American Exceptionalism Can’t Beat a Pandemic(Uri Friedman, The Atlantic)
For decades other countries were shaped by the traumas of disease outbreaks while the United States remained largely untouched. No longer.
The Death of American Competence(Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy)
Washington’s reputation for expertise has been one of the greatest sources of its power. The coronavirus pandemic may end it for good.
No matter how the federal government responded, the United States was never going to escape COVID-19 entirely. Even Singapore, whose response to the virus seems to be the gold standard thus far, has several hundred confirmed cases. Nonetheless, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s belated, self-centered, haphazard, and tone-deaf response will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths. Even if the view that the dangers may have been exaggerated due to a lack of accurate data turns out to be correct, Trump’s entire approach to governing and the administration’s erratic response squandered public confidence and made a more measured reaction untenable. Despite his denials, he is still responsible for where the country is today.
But that’s not the only damage the United States will suffer. Far from making “America great again,” this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States’ reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively.
Chinese Hackers Attacked Foreign Health Care, Military, Oil Networks as Coronavirus Hit China(Patrick Tucker, Defense One)
In January, the ‘widespread’ assault targeted a vulnerability in virtual desktops, cloud computing, and network applications, FireEye announced.
This Is Just the Beginning(Yascha Mounk, The Atlantic)
People who now advocate that we “choose the economy” are not being honest about the consequences of that decision.
Yes, Blame China for the Virus(Paul D. Miller, Foreign Policy)
A bungled response in Western countries is no reason to take the heat off China. If China had a different government, the world could have been spared this terrible pandemic.
“Last Resort”: Alabama’s Plan for Deciding Which Coronavirus Patients Get Ventilators(Connor Sheets, AL)
Any of a wide range of underlying health conditions – such as metastasized cancer, AIDS, “severe mental retardation,” advanced dementia and “severe burns” – could disqualify patients from being put on potentially lifesaving ventilators.
Homeland Security Warns Terrorists May Exploit COVID-19 Pandemic(Alexander Mallin, Josh Margolin, ABC News)
The bulletin notes there is “no information” yet on specific plots.
Sea levels worldwide could go up nearly five feet, researchers say.
Fauci: Trump’s Remarks Can Lead to “Misunderstandings”(VOA)
President Donald Trump’s top disease expert says some of what Trump expresses in coronavirus briefings “could lead to some misunderstanding” about the facts. Fauci says there isn’t much he can do when Trump makes a misstatement.
“I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time,” Fauci said.
White supremacists discussed using the coronavirus as a bioweapon, explosive internal document reveals(Sonam Sheth, Business Insider)
Federal investigators have learned that white supremacists discussed plans to use the coronavirus as a bioweapon, Yahoo News reported, citing a weekly intelligence brief from a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
“White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an ‘OBLIGATION’ to spread it should any of them contract the virus,” the document said.
White supremacists suggested targeting law enforcement and “nonwhite” people in particular.
They floated options like leaving “saliva on door handles” at local FBI offices, spitting on elevator buttons, spreading the virus in “nonwhite neighborhoods,” and being in public with their perceived enemies.
DHS Chief: False Reports of National Shutdown May Be Part of Russian Disinformation Campaign(Justin Wise, The Hill)
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Sunday that false reports that the U.S. is imposing a national quarantine because of the novel coronavirus are part of a “disinformation campaign” possibly stemming from Russia.
Speaking on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Wolf acknowledged that he’s been contacted several times about text messages circulating that say “we’re going to have a national lockdown or a national quarantine.”
“I would just say, that’s absolutely false. It’s not true,” he said. “And it is part of a disinformation campaign.”
As the West Panics, Putin Is Watching(Elizabeth Braw, Foreign Policy)
As the West Panics, Putin Is Watching
The Russians Are Coming Again, and They’re Winning(Casey Michel, Daily Beast)
One thing appears certain: Russia’s victory last week in our courts is only going to further embolden the trolls as we go through the 2020 election.
Coronavirus Confinement Challenges Intelligence Services(Didier Lauras, AFP)
The home confinement of hundreds of millions of people worldwide to halt coronavirus contagion has presented intelligence services with a challenge: monitoring an explosion in internet traffic, above board and not, even as their own capacity is reduced.
The global health crisis has exposed the internet as both a tool and a potential target for malefactors, experts say, with agents—many themselves working from home—having to sift through the deluge looking for credible threats.
Criminals could take advantage of the disarray to launch attacks on government and nuclear systems, alter scientific or electoral data, paralyze servers, or spread fake news.
Russia’s Long-Term Campaign of Disinformation in Europe(Agnieszka Legucka, Carnegie Endowment)
Knowing the strategic goals of Russian foreign policy, the EU must prepare for Russian disinformation being a long-term tool for contesting the order in Europe.
The U.S. Military’s Behind-the-Scenes Moves to Protect Nuclear Readiness Amid Coronavirus(William M Arkin, Newsweek)
The Defense Department shifted many of its domestic bases to “health protection condition” Charlie on Sunday, the latest in a series of moves to protect military forces, families and bases from coronavirus. HPCON Charlie – also known as “substantial threat of sustained community transmission” – is the fourth highest of five levels.
Though Pentagon officials continue to insist that the coronavirus pandemic has had no impact on operational readiness of the armed forces, behind the scenes military exercises and deployments are being scaled down and canceled, and plans are being put in place to sustain essential operations. That includes the so-called triad of bombers, land-based missiles and submarines that make up the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
China Borrowing Russian Tactics to Spread Coronavirus Disinformation(Shannon Vavra, Cybersecurity)
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s state-backed information operations have been following Russia’s playbook for spreading disinformation, an expert on the subject told a panel on Monday.
The Chinese Communist Party, typically thought to run disinformation operations aimed at controlling the narrative, is mirroring behavior that is historically associated with Russian disinformation — spreading chaos and confusion. In this case, it’s about whether the coronavirus actually originated in China, Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, said during a disinformation event hosted by the CyberPeace Institute (CPI), a nonprofit founded last year to call out malicious cyber activities.
All Hands on Deck: Infosec Volunteers to Protect Medical Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis(Sean Lyngaas, Cyberscoop)
Hackers crossed a line last week when they struck the computer network of the Czech Republic’s second largest hospital as it was testing people for the novel coronavirus.
Former White House and British intelligence officials condemned the cyberattack. It is the sort of digital depravity that U.S. prosecutors have vowed to crack down on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also a tipping point for Ohad Zaidenberg, an Israel-based cyberthreat researcher. “If anyone is sick enough to use this global crisis to conduct cyberattacks, we need to try to stop them,” he said.
And so Zaidenberg stepped up his effort to assemble an ad-hoc group of malware hunters to gather data on COVID-19-related hacking.
The Epic Failure of Coronavirus Testing in America(Editorial Board, New York Times)
China and South Korea offer lessons in how to curb this pandemic.
Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?(David L. Katz, New York Times)
There may be more targeted ways to beat the pandemic.
Researchers Kickstart Huge Study of Malaria Drug to Prevent Coronavirus(Adam Rawnsley, Daily Beast)
There’s a lot of hope but not much data about whether hydroxychloroquine can fight coronavirus. Now scientists are rushing to get the answers.
How Do You Spy When the World Is Shut Down?(Alex Finley, Jonna Mendez, David Priess, Lawfare)
The novel coronavirus presents significant challenges to the mission and operations of every government agency and department—and the Central Intelligence Agency is no exception. In fact, the agency’s intelligence officers now face a more difficult challenge than ever when it comes to their efforts to recruit spies.
Global Tension Points to a Future of Destructive Malware(Greg Foss, ITProPortal)
Together with an evolution in the way cybercriminals are getting access to critical systems, this is a concerning shift.
Read the whole story

· · · · · · · · ·

U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic

2 Shares
The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.
Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.
“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” this official said. “The system was blinking red.”
Spokespeople for the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, and a White House spokesman rebutted criticism of Trump’s response.
“President Trump has taken historic, aggressive measures to protect the health, wealth and safety of the American people — and did so, while the media and Democrats chose to only focus on the stupid politics of a sham illegitimate impeachment,” Hogan Gidley said in a statement. “It’s more than disgusting, despicable and disgraceful for cowardly unnamed sources to attempt to rewrite history — it’s a clear threat to this great country.”
Public health experts have criticized China for being slow to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, and have said precious time was lost in the effort to slow the spread. At a White House briefing Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said officials had been alerted to the initial reports of the virus by discussions that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had with Chinese colleagues on Jan. 3.
The warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies increased in volume toward the end of January and into early February, said officials familiar with the reports. By then, a majority of the intelligence reporting included in daily briefing papers and digests from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA was about covid-19, said officials who have read the reports.
The surge in warnings coincided with a move by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to sell dozens of stocks worth between $628,033 and $1.72 million. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr was privy to virtually all of the highly classified reporting on the coronavirus. Burr issued a statement Friday defending his sell-off, saying he sold based entirely on publicly available information, and he called for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate.
A key task for analysts during disease outbreaks is to determine whether foreign officials are trying to minimize the effects of an outbreak or take steps to hide a public health crisis, according to current and former officials familiar with the process.
At the State Department, personnel had been nervously tracking early reports about the virus. One official noted that it was discussed at a meeting in the third week of January, around the time that cable traffic showed that U.S. diplomats in Wuhan were being brought home on chartered planes — a sign that the public health risk was significant. A colleague at the White House mentioned how concerned he was about the transmissibility of the virus.
“In January, there was obviously a lot of chatter,” the official said.
Inside the White House, Trump’s advisers struggled to get him to take the virus seriously, according to multiple officials with knowledge of meetings among those advisers and with the president.
Azar couldn’t get through to Trump to speak with him about the virus until Jan. 18, according to two senior administration officials. When he reached Trump by phone, the president interjected to ask about vaping and when flavored vaping products would be back on the market, the senior administration officials said.
On Jan. 27, White House aides huddled with then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in his office, trying to get senior officials to pay more attention to the virus, according to people briefed on the meeting. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, argued that the administration needed to take the virus seriously or it could cost the president his reelection, and that dealing with the virus was likely to dominate life in the United States for many months.
Mulvaney then began convening more regular meetings. In early briefings, however, officials said Trump was dismissive because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.
By early February, Grogan and others worried that there weren’t enough tests to determine the rate of infection, according to people who spoke directly to Grogan. Other officials, including Matthew Pottinger, the president’s deputy national security adviser, began calling for a more forceful response, according to people briefed on White House meetings.
“I think it’s going to work out fine,” Trump said on Feb. 19. “I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.”
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted five days later. “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
But earlier that month, a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services delivered a starkly different message to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a classified briefing that four U.S. officials said covered the coronavirus and its global health implications. The House Intelligence Committee received a similar briefing.
Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response — who was joined by intelligence officials, including from the CIA — told committee members that the virus posed a “serious” threat, one of those officials said.
Kadlec didn’t provide specific recommendations, but he said that to get ahead of the virus and blunt its effects, Americans would need to take actions that could disrupt their daily lives, the official said. “It was very alarming.”
Trump’s insistence on the contrary seemed to rest in his relationship with China’s President Xi Jingping, whom Trump believed was providing him with reliable information about how the virus was spreading in China, despite reports from intelligence agencies that Chinese officials were not being candid about the true scale of the crisis.
Some of Trump’s advisers told him that Beijing was not providing accurate numbers of people who were infected or who had died, according to administration officials. Rather than press China to be more forthcoming, Trump publicly praised its response.
“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus,” Trump tweeted Jan. 24. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
Some of Trump’s advisers encouraged him to be tougher on China over its decision not to allow teams from the CDC into the country, administration officials said.
In one February meeting, the president said that if he struck a tougher tone against Xi, the Chinese would be less willing to give the Americans information about how they were tackling the outbreak.
Trump on Feb. 3 banned foreigners who had been in China in the previous 14 days from entering the United States, a step he often credits for helping to protect Americans against the virus. He has also said publicly that the Chinese weren’t honest about the effects of the virus. But that travel ban wasn’t accompanied by additional significant steps to prepare for when the virus eventually infected people in the United States in great numbers.
As the disease spread beyond China, U.S. spy agencies tracked outbreaks in Iran, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, the officials familiar with those reports said. The majority of the information came from public sources, including news reports and official statements, but a significant portion also came from classified intelligence sources. As new cases popped up, the volume of reporting spiked.
“I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine,” he said on Feb. 10.
“We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it,” he said four days later. “It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”
On Feb. 25, Nancy Messonnier, a senior CDC official, sounded perhaps the most significant public alarm to that point, when she told reporters that the coronavirus was likely to spread within communities in the United States and that disruptions to daily life could be “severe.” Trump called Azar on his way back from a trip to India and complained that Messonnier was scaring the stock markets, according to two senior administration officials.
Trump eventually changed his tone after being shown statistical models about the spread of the virus from other countries and hearing directly from Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, as well as from chief executives last week rattled by a plunge in the stock market, said people ­familiar with Trump’s conversations.
But by then, the signs pointing to a major outbreak in the United States were everywhere.
Yasmeen Abutaleb contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to note that the House Intelligence Committee received a similar briefing on coronavirus from a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services as did the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Read the whole story

· · · · · · ·

The coronavirus is the worst intelligence failure in US history | Micah Zenko | Opinion

1 Share
Last September, I met the vice-president for risk for a Fortune 100 company in Washington DC. I asked the executive – who previously had a long career as an intelligence analyst – the question you would ask any risk officer: “What are you most worried about?” Without pausing, this person replied, “A highly contagious virus that begins somewhere in China and spreads rapidly.” This vice-president, whose company has offices throughout east Asia, explained the preventive mitigating steps the company had subsequently adopted to counter this potential threat.
Since the novel coronavirus has swept the world, I have often thought about this person’s prescient risk calculus. Most leaders lack the discipline to do routine risk-based horizon scanning, and fewer still develop the requisite contingency plans. Even rarer is the leader who has the foresight to correctly identify the top threat far enough in advance to develop and implement those plans.
Suffice it to say, the Trump administration has cumulatively failed, both in taking seriously the specific, repeated intelligence community warnings about a coronavirus outbreak and in vigorously pursuing the nationwide response initiatives commensurate with the predicted threat. The federal government alone has the resources and authorities to lead the relevant public and private stakeholders to confront the foreseeable harms posed by the virus. Unfortunately, Trump officials made a series of judgments (minimizing the hazards of Covid-19) and decisions (refusing to act with the urgency required) that have needlessly made Americans far less safe.
In short, the Trump administration forced a catastrophic strategic surprise onto the American people. But unlike past strategic surprises – Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution of 1979, or especially 9/11 – the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence. Whereas, for example, the 9/11 Commission Report assigned blame for the al-Qaida attacks on the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan through George W Bush, the unfolding coronavirus crisis is overwhelmingly the sole responsibility of the current White House.
Chapter 8 of the 9/11 Commission Report was titled, The System Was Blinking Red. The quote came from the former CIA director George Tenet, who was characterizing the summer of 2001, when the intelligence community’s multiple reporting streams indicated an imminent aviation terrorist attack inside the United States. Despite the warnings and frenzied efforts of some counter-terrorism officials, the 9/11 Commission determined “We see little evidence that the progress of the plot was disturbed by any government action … Time ran out.”
Last week, the Washington Post reported on the steady drumbeat of coronavirus warnings that the intelligence community presented to the White House in January and February. These alerts made little impact upon senior administration officials, who were undoubtedly influenced by President Donald Trump’s constant derision of the virus, which he began on 22 January: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
By now, there are three painfully obvious observations about Trump’s leadership style that explain the worsening coronavirus pandemic that Americans now face. First, there is the fact that once he believes absolutely anything – no matter how poorly thought-out, ill-informed or inaccurate – he remains completely anchored to that initial impression or judgment. Leaders are unusually hubristic and overconfident; for many, the fact that they have risen to elevated levels of power is evidence of their inherent wisdom. But truly wise leaders authentically solicit feedback and criticism, are actively open thinkers, and are capable of changing their minds. By all accounts, Trump lacks these enabling competencies.
Second, Trump’s judgments are highly transmissible, infecting the thinking and behavior of nearly every official or adviser who comes in contact with the initial carrier. Unsurprisingly, the president surrounds himself with people who look, think and act like he does. Yet, his inaccurate or disreputable comments also have the remarkable ability to become recycled by formerly honorable military, intelligence and business leaders. And if somebody does not consistently parrot the president’s proclamations with adequate intensity, they are fired, or it is leaked that their firing could be imminent at any time – most notably the recent report of the president’s impatience with the indispensable Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
And, third, the poor judgments soon contaminate all the policymaking arms of the federal government with almost no resistance or even reasonable questioning. Usually, federal agencies are led by those officials whom the White House believes are best able to implement policy. These officials have usually enjoyed some degree of autonomy; not under Trump. Even historically non-partisan national security or intelligence leadership positions have been filled by people who are ideologically aligned with the White House, rather than endowed with the experience or expertise needed to push back or account for the concerns raised by career non-political employees.
Thus, an initial incorrect assumption or statement by Trump cascades into day-to-day policy implementation.
The same Post report featured the following stunning passage from an anonymous US official: “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were – they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking red.” That latter passage is an obvious reference to that aforementioned central finding of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Given that Trump concluded early on that the coronavirus simply could not present a threat to the United States, perhaps there is nothing that the intelligence community, medical experts employing epidemiological models, or public health officials could have told the White House that would have made any difference. Former national security adviser Henry Kissinger is reputed to have said after an intelligence community warning went unrecognized, “You warned me, but you didn’t convince me.” Yet, a presidential brain trust wholly closed off to contrarian, though accurate, viewpoints is incapable of being convinced.
The White House detachment and nonchalance during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak will be among the most costly decisions of any modern presidency. These officials were presented with a clear progression of warnings and crucial decision points far enough in advance that the country could have been far better prepared. But the way that they squandered the gifts of foresight and time should never be forgotten, nor should the reason they were squandered: Trump was initially wrong, so his inner circle promoted that wrongness rhetorically and with inadequate policies for far too long, and even today. Americans will now pay the price for decades.
Read the whole story

· · · ·

Bioterrorism - Wikipedia

1 Share
In Oregon in 1984, followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh attempted to control a local election by incapacitating the local population. This was done by infecting salad bars in 11 restaurants, produce in grocery stores, doorknobs, and other public domains with Salmonella typhimurium bacteria in the city of The DallesOregon. The attack infected 751 people with severe food poisoning. There were no fatalities. This incident was the first known bioterrorist attack in the United States in the 20th century.[12] It was also the single largest bioterrorism attack on U.S. soil.[13]
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 2

Bioterrorism - Wikipedia

1 Share
Bioterrorism is terrorism involving the intentional release or dissemination of biological agents. These agents are bacteriaviruses, insects, fungi, or toxins, and may be in a naturally occurring or a human-modified form, in much the same way in biological warfare. Further, modern agribusiness is vulnerable to anti-agricultural attacks by terrorists, and such attacks can seriously damage economy as well as consumer confidence.[1] The later destructive activity is called agrobioterrorism and is subtype of agro-terrorism.[2]

How to keep the new coronavirus from being used as a terrorist weapon

1 Share
On March 26, CNN reported that US agencies now consider the intentional spread by extremist groups of the coronavirus causing the current pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, to be a growing threat in the United States. The referenced agency documents have not been made public; however, one such Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document is quoted as saying: “Members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, to targeted groups through bodily fluids and personal interactions.”
The CNN report seems to contemplate the possibility of US domestic terrorism and “the threat from white supremacist and other extremist groups related to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Last year, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies completed a detailed assessment of the risk that Islamist terrorists might use infected humans to spread a contagious disease. Our experts found that Islamist terrorists, and extremist groups more generally, are not bound by ideological or psychosocial norms that prohibit such behavior. In addition, the use of infected humans to spread a contagious disease requires comparatively limited technical know-how. Our experts concluded that such an attack “could prove to be highly lethal to the targeted population(s), provide a low cost weapon, have a traumatic psychological shock value … undermine a country’s public health and medical infrastructure’s ability to respond, and erode faith in the government’s ability to protect the public.”
In view of this assessment, I believe the possibility that extremist groups may attempt to deliberately spread SARS-CoV-2—the virus causing the current pandemic—should not be ignored. In fact, one of the primary limiting factors to such an attack—recruiting humans willing to infect themselves—does not apply in this case; potential perpetrators would come from the ranks of those already infected with the virus. So we are faced with a genuinely challenging task: preemption.
Preventing pandemic terrorism. The primary means for preventing extremist use of the coronavirus pandemic as a terror tool fall in three general categories: disruption, deterrence, and defense. All three need to be used in a layered approach to reduce the incidence and effects of bioterrorism via coronavirus or a future emerging disease.
Disruption. Interdicting an infected terrorist before he or she reaches a target location or population will require timely and accurate intelligence. US agencies should deploy all means at their disposal to identify indicators of intent in extremist groups, their members, and individuals who may be influenced by those groups. Data sources will include social media posts, electronic communications via email and text, and online communities, chat rooms, and message boards. Intelligence agencies should also direct their surveillance activities toward identifying potential target locations and populations.
Deterrence. In the context of infectious terrorism, criminalization is the primary means of ensuring that perpetrators face severe consequences. The deliberate use of naturally-occurring infectious diseases for political or ideological gain fits the definition of bioterrorism; as such, US criminal legislation applies.  This legislation is complex, involving multiple interconnected laws. (Note: the laws are presented here out of chronological order for clarity):
  • The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 makes it a federal crime to create, possess, or transfer any biological agent “for use as a weapon”; it is punishable by up to life in prison.
  • The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 broadens the purview of the preceding law to include anyone who “attempts, threatens, or conspires” to conduct these activities.
  • The Antiterrorism Act of 1990 focuses on international terrorism that is designed to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or government; it is relevant in this case because it was later amended to include domestic terrorism (see below). Punishment may include death.
  • The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 amends the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 to specifically include biological agents.
  • USA Patriot Act of 2001 amends the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 to include domestic terrorism.
The first two laws in this list establish that any plot to deliberately spread SARS-CoV-2 is a criminal offense punishable by up to life in prison, whether or not the plot is carried out. The subsequent three establish that any such use of a biological agent is a criminal offense punishable by up to the death penalty.
The primary challenge of effective deterrence is attribution.  Amid the exploding COVID-19 case load, how can infections of deliberate origin be identified? There are two basic mechanisms for attribution of an infectious attack.
Traditional epidemiology involves contact traceback to determine the who, what, when, where, and how of a given infection. We are now in a phase of the COVID-19 pandemic that government officials are making reference to “community spread,” but that term can be misleading; every case is still connected to another, with the virus spreading from one individual to someone else, primarily by respiratory droplets transmitted from a distance of less than six feet. Community spread simply means that we are unable to specifically identify the who, what, when, where, and how of many cases due to the rate and extent of spread. Even in such a situation, however, epidemiological indicators may suggest a deliberate introduction of disease. Does the affected population have unique characteristics, distinct from the broader population (e.g., religious, ideological, occupational, etc.)? Is the affected population insulated from known COVID-19 cases, whether socially or geographically? Is the affected population otherwise at low risk for infection? “Yes” answers to these questions may warrant further investigation.
Molecular epidemiology involves evaluating the genetic characteristics of an infecting virus to identify similarities and differences versus other circulating viruses. If an infecting virus is markedly dissimilar from other viruses in the same geographic area, it may have been recently introduced by an outside source. All patients with unusual or unclear patterns of exposure based on traditional epidemiology should therefore have their infecting virus sequenced and analyzed to look for such dissimilarities.
Defense. Defense against an infectious disease attack involves a range of measures that reduce vulnerabilities and consequences in potential target populations. If target populations are secured against outsiders, whether through quarantine, geographic barriers, or physical barriers, they become less vulnerable. Appropriate health care capacity, including adequate levels of personal protective equipment, diagnostics, therapeutics, and supportive care, reduce the consequences of attack. And herd immunity in the population, through such means as vaccination, would effectively remove SARS-CoV-2 from consideration as a weapon altogether.
The wisdom of a layered approach. The threat of deliberate spread of SARS-CoV-2 is real, but my colleagues and I believe a layered strategy that includes disruption, deterrence, and defense offers some degree of protection against such an attack. Effective attribution is a major factor in deterrence. Unfortunately, the diligent epidemiological analysis that is required to determine the source of suspected coronavirus attacks is likely to be limited by the human and material resource constraints in the current phase of the pandemic. Nonetheless, we recommend that intelligence gathering efforts and defensive measures be prioritized, both to identify motivated perpetrators and to protect potential target populations to the extent possible.
Read the whole story

· · · ·

Biopreparedness in the Age of Genetically Engineered Pathogens and Open Access Science: An Urgent Need for a Paradigm Shift | Military Medicine | Oxford Academic

1 Share

Biopreparedness in the Age of Genetically Engineered Pathogens and Open Access Science: An Urgent Need for a Paradigm Shift


C Raina MacIntyre, MBBS, M App Epid, PhD, FRACP, FAFPHM
1School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Samuels Building, 325, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
Search for other works by this author on:
C Raina MacIntyre, MBBS, M App Epid, PhD, FRACP, FAFPHM
Military Medicine, Volume 180, Issue 9, September 2015, Pages 943–949, https://doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00482
Published:
01 September 2015

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

Rapid developments in science and unprecedented accessibility of bioweapons have outpaced the capacity of our systems to deal effectively with bioterrorism threats. Acceleration in dual-use research of concern (DURC) and public availability of methods for DURC are gamechangers in biosecurity. DURC is research intended to benefit human health, but which can also inadvertently or deliberately harm people. Other vulnerabilities include lack of systems for differentiating natural and unnatural outbreaks, low awareness of the insider threat, and lack of intersectoral collaboration. The aim of this article is to examine traditional approaches to bioterrorism in the context of new challenges; and to outline potential approaches to improving biopreparedness in the era of DURC.

RECOGNIZING BIOTERRORISM

If a building collapses, even a child can differentiate between a bomb and an earthquake as the cause. Traditional approaches to bioterrorism are underpinned by the assumption that acts of bioterrorism, like a collapsing building, will be easily recognized. However, unless the event is related to an eradicated organism such as smallpox, even the most skilled experts cannot readily differentiate between unnatural and natural outbreaks when it involves a disease that occurs naturally. Experts need to firstly be open to the possibility, and secondly to have systems for flagging aberrant outbreak patterns.
There has been a surge in emerging infectious diseases in recent years, including Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and avian influenza, but public health response has defaulted to an assumption of natural emergence. Ebola is a category A bioterrorism agent, and the 2014 West African outbreak displayed highly unusual features.1,3 For example, Ebola has never occurred in more than one country simultaneously previously, nor in capital cities.4 Further, two unrelated Ebola epidemics occurred at the same time in West Africa and The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014, while an outbreak of Marburg virus simultaneously broke out in Uganda. Locals speculated about the origin of the 2014 Ebola epidemic being bioterrorism,5,6 yet this has been ignored in the public health response. Few nations have systematic mechanisms to assess re-emerging or emerging infections for potential bioterrorism, despite acceleration of science and accessibility of means for bioterrorism. An analysis of MERS-CoV shows that the pattern of disease fits with deliberate release,7 yet this possibility has not been seriously entertained. The geographic spread of the recently emerged H7N9 avian influenza is puzzling. In contrast to H5N1, H7N9 does not correspond to either wild bird flyways or poultry trading routes.8 The virus contains the same genetic mutations (which confers adaptation to humans), as engineered influenza viruses.8 Yet this H7N9 has also been assumed to be natural.
The science of epidemiology9 is about pattern recognition and classification of disease into the three major patterns, epidemic, endemic, and sporadic. Unnatural patterns which do not fit the predicted behavior of infectious diseases,10 may be a signal for potential bioterrorism. Field epidemiology is the science of investigating outbreaks, pioneered by the US Centers for Disease Control with its Epidemic Intelligence Service.11 The International Health Regulations (IHR),12 which specify standards in disease surveillance, notification and response, rely field epidemiology for implementation. However, skills, laws, and resources do not guarantee correct interpretation of disease data, as illustrated by the following case study.

PATTERN RECOGNITION: NATURAL OR UNNATURAL OUTBREAK?

In September 1984, a large epidemic of salmonella occurred in the United States, with 751 cases arising from 10 restaurants. Eating at the salad bar was identified as the risk factor. Health authorities concluded this was a food-borne outbreak, and the cause, unsanitary food handlers. The salad bars were closed down, the outbreak subsided, and the matter would have ended there, but for a local politician, Jim Weaver, who accused a local religious cult of deliberately contaminating salad bars.13
He went to the media with his claims, but health authorities refuted him, and he was branded paranoid and prejudiced against the religious cult. Six months later, the leader of the cult, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, confessed to the attack. Initially, his confession was not believed, but a year after the outbreak the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found an exact genetic match of salmonella in the cult's laboratories.
The outbreak occurred in Oregon in 1984. Rajneesh had purchased a ranch for 4,000 followers, and was in conflict with Wasco County over land use, and sought to take control of the County by making enough locals sick so that they would not be able to vote. The restaurant attack was a practice run, with the final plan to contaminate the town water supply before election day. Numerous cult members were involved, including 2 registered nurses. This case was not discussed publicly or written up in medical literature for another 12 years.14
There are only two explanations for 10 restaurants being simultaneously affected by an identical strain of salmonella—either a common contaminated ingredient in all affected restaurants, or deliberate contamination. Yet neither explanation was considered, despite Jim Weaver's warning. Even when Rajneesh confessed, he was not believed. This case study illustrates the inability of experts to interpret the data correctly, and the active resistance to considering bioterrorism as a cause. The normal human tendency is to force available facts to fit the dominant paradigm of thinking. Most food borne outbreaks are because of unsafe food handling, and this is the dominant paradigm for a field epidemiologist. Even experts may default to the dominant paradigm and override fact with belief. There is a need to train field epidemiologists to recognize unusual patterns and consider bioterrorism as a possibility. If the possibility is never entertained, it will never be detected. The Rajneesh case would have remained undetected if not for the unsolicited confession. The ridiculing of the 1 person who recognized bioterrorism and the silence around the case for more than a decade illustrate important lessons.

THE INSIDER THREAT: BIOLOGISTS AS TERRORISTS?

U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism recognizes the risk posed by the insider—“Given the high level of know-how needed (we) should be less concerned that terrorists will become biologists and far more concerned that biologists will become terrorists.”15 The FBI investigation of the U.S. 2001 Anthrax letter bombs led to Dr Bruce Ivins, a researcher in the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.16 Ivins, who initially helped the FBI with the investigation, eventually became a suspect and was investigated for almost 7 years, committing suicide before he was to be charged. In 2003, Professor Thomas Butler, a university scientist who had served in U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit, was convicted for illegal transportation of plague to Tanzania, and other charges.17 The aggressive prosecution of an eminent scientist was met with disapproval from the scientific community.18
Case studies of insiders show a range of personal motives19,20—greed, revenge, divided loyalty, blackmail, ego, work or family problems, or ideology. Insider threat has been traditionally viewed as stealing secrets to give to others, but where scientists are concerned, additional vested interests which could lead to personal gain such as patents on therapeutics, desire for fame, and potential for high impact research publications may all play a role in illegal research. Following the Ivins case, the United States came up with the Fink report in 2004,21 which made key recommendations for oversight of DURC, and recommended the creation of a National Science Advisory Board for Biodefense (NSABB), established in 2005.
For infectious diseases, the 2 major categories of DURC are synthetic genomics and genetic modification of pathogens. The first synthetic virus was created in 2002,22 and there are more than 50 unregulated private companies in the United States, China, and Europe in this industry. Genetic modification of pathogens has been documented since the Soviet bioweapons program, including insertion of genes from Ebola into smallpox.23 The most instructive case of DURC is research into transmissible avian influenza strains.

DURC: THE CASE OF ENGINEERED TRANSMISSIBLE AVIAN INFLUENZA VIRUSES

Influenza can affect many species of mammals and birds. H5N1 is a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus which emerged in 1997 and affects birds. It has caused sporadic human cases, mostly in people with close contact with sick or dead birds. Over 386 people have been infected worldwide since 1997.24,25 H5N1 is not easily transmissible between humans, but the potential of a random genetic mutation which could result in human transmissibility has driven global pandemic planning since 2005. There is an unknown, but real probability that a pandemic may arise from genetic mixing or a random mutation of avian H5N1. It was anticipated in 2005 that the next pandemic virus may be related to avian H5N1.26 In 2011, two research groups completed research on engineering the H5N1 to make it transmissible in mammals. The rationale was to anticipate and understand the emergence of a H5N1 pandemic virus, and to enable vaccines and treatments. The risks include bioterrorism or a laboratory accident, either of which could spark an unnatural pandemic. These research groups sought to make their methods public in leading journals.27
The scientific community remains deeply divided about DURC.28 The opposing view was that the risk of a laboratory accident or bioterrorism sparking a pandemic was unacceptable, and that the benefits were minimal.29 Influenza vaccines must be exactly matched to a virus to be protective, so creating an engineered virus ahead of a potential pandemic, should a pandemic with that exact virus eventuate naturally, is flawed, as the exact virus which causes a pandemic cannot be predicted. This unpredictability is illustrated the fact that the 2009 pandemic was not the anticipated H5N1, but an entirely different virus, H1N1, rendering all vaccines prepared for H5N1 useless.29
In 2011, the NSABB initially unanimously recommended censorship of methods for H5N1 DURC, as it was deemed a biosecurity risk.30 Yet in March 2012, following outspoken objections from scientists engaged in DURC, the NSABB reversed their position, and publication was allowed.31,33 Questions have been raised about bias and conflicts of interest within the NSABB in this reversal, and have yet to be satisfactorily resolved.34 Since then, DURC has accelerated, including engineered H7N9 and creation of a 1918 pandemic-like influenza virus.35,36
Inexplicably, the NSABB failed to meet again for more than 2 years, despite acceleration of DURC.35,37 The NSABB has further had its charter narrowed, with a reduced focus on DURC, and a reduction of funding. In the same time frame, major safety breaches occurred involving anthrax, avian influenza, and Ebola in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratories; and unsecured vials of smallpox were found at the National Institute of Health.38,40 In July 2014, the NSABB dismissed all remaining members who had been part of the H5N1 controversy. The cumulative effect of these changes is to further erode protections for society against DURC.41
If other stakeholders such as law enforcement, defense and intelligence agencies have had input into these decisions, they have not had influence. The public debate has narrowly focused on medical research, without acknowledgment of other sectors or input from wider perspectives. Further, there has been no attempt to quantify risks versus benefits of DURC.

RISK–BENEFIT ANALYSIS AS A TOOL FOR BIOSECURITY: THE EXAMPLE OF H5N1 DURC

Naturally occurring H5N1 influenza is not easily transmitted between humans. Methods for engineering transmissible H5N1 are now publicly available, yet the risk–benefit arguments are not routinely quantified. To quantify these, it is first necessary to estimate probabilities of a natural pandemic occurring (preparedness for this as the argument in favor of DURC) and of an unnatural pandemic occurring as the result of a laboratory accident or deliberate release (the argument against DURC).
If the risk of a natural pandemic was low and the risk of an unnatural one high, this would favor risk over benefit, and vice versa. Figure 1 outlines the context of H5N1 dual-use research, and shows the two pathways through which a pandemic could occur—either naturally, with a probability P1, or unnaturally through a laboratory accident or deliberate release with a probability, P2.

FIGURE 1.
Summary of the dilemma of potential pandemic influenza and dual-use research.
FIGURE 1.
Summary of the dilemma of potential pandemic influenza and dual-use research.
A rough estimation of P1 versus P2 can be made as follows. We know that natural pandemics occur every 40 years or so, so P1 may be 1/40 or 0.025. The probability of an engineered pandemic strain is 1 (100%), because such viruses have already been created.32,33 The probability of a pandemic arising as a result, P2 = 1 × K, where K is either the probability of bioterrorism or a laboratory accident. We have seen four major safety breaches with dangerous pathogens in leading institutes in 2014,38,40 so we could assume the probability of a laboratory accident is high. For bioterrorism, it may be the case that K = 1. It is accepted in law enforcement that if a reproducible method for creating a 3-dimensional printer gun is published on the Internet, the probability of it being used by criminals is 1. It would be naïve to assume the probability as anything other than 1 for terrorists undertaking genetic engineering of viruses once the methods are published.
If we assume this to be true, then P1 = 0.025 and P2 = 1. Even if P2 is not 1, P2 is likely to be higher than P1. A more refined approach to calculating probabilities may result in different estimates, but probability of risk is unlikely to be less than that of benefit. Despite the potentially catastrophic impacts on society and the high stakes involved, risk analysis is not globally mandated for this question. Other approaches to quantifying risk show that DURC carries unacceptable risk to society.42 Following a review of DURC in 2015, the U.S. National Institute of Health will contract a private firm to conduct a risk analysis on paused DURC. This is a step in the right direction, but critics have raised conflicts of interest in the process, and global governance is still lacking.43

ETHICS, CONFLICT OF INTEREST, AND DEFINING THE STAKEHOLDERS

There are a broad range of stakeholders in biosecurity, from the general public, to scientists, health professionals, food and agriculture sectors, government, law enforcement, and the military, each with their own interests. Scientists have an interest in their own research careers, in publishing research, and gaining research grants. Law enforcement and military, on the other hand, are concerned with protecting the public from threats. The interests of different stakeholders may come into conflict, yet conflicts of interests around DURC have not been well addressed. Nor has there been any move to force declaration of conflicts of interest.34 Using accepted principles of dealing with conflict of interest in medical research as defined by the National Institutes of Health,44 decisions about DURC should be made by people free of conflicts of interest. Further, such decisions impact on all humanity, not just on the scientists involved, and it is important that all stakeholders be involved in the decision-making.
The ethics of dual-use research is more complex than usually considered by institutional ethics review boards and research ethics committees. These have developed from the 1964 declaration of Helsinki, and been refined around studies of therapeutic agents.45 Principles of beneficence, nonharm, informed consent, and privacy apply equally to populations as they do to individuals, yet the ethical implications of DURC have not been well considered. The impact of an epidemic can affect people who do not make an informed decision or consent to accepting the risk, so harm at a population level caused by DURC with epidemic potential is unique, and not something which ethics committees consider routinely. Although some organizations and countries have specific policies on DURC and mechanisms for oversight, this is by no means uniform or universal, and many gaps in accountability exist. It would be important to develop universal and enforceable guidelines that address DURC, considering questions of risk, benefit, and informed consent as it applies to the community as a stakeholder.46

BETTER THREAT RECOGNITION AND RESPONSE: A PROPOSED INTERSECTORAL MODEL

Public health surveillance systems and organizational culture within public health tend to assume natural causes, as illustrated by the Rajneesh salmonella outbreak.14 On the other hand, relying on infectious diseases expertise within other agencies such as defense or law enforcement is not adequate, as the critical mass of expertise required is only present in the health sector.
As I have shown in my analysis of MERS-CoV, simple principles of epidemiology can be applied to analyze patterns as expected or unexpected, and to use this as a flag for potential deliberate release.7 However, a paradigm shift is required to utilize this science for flagging aberrant patterns. Although we have excellent surveillance systems in many countries, the question about natural or unnatural patterns of disease is not routinely asked in public health. When asked, it is rarely accepted and often vocally opposed.47
If systems incorporate aberrant pattern analysis as a flag for potential bioterrorism,7 this could then act as a referral point to security, law enforcement or defense sectors, who are far better equipped to investigate the possibility of deliberate release. In fact, the evidence required to prove bioterrorism cannot be acquired by health authorities. A laboratory isolation of a pathogen or an epidemiologic pattern cannot prove deliberate release—the best contribution that health authorities can make is early identification of aberrant patterns, and referral to law enforcement agencies. As illustrated by the Rajneesh salmonella case, the evidence for bioterrorism was finally obtained by a FBI raid on the Rajneesh laboratories and the finding of the identical outbreak strain in their cultures. Figure 2 shows a proposed model for incorporating pattern analysis into outbreak response, and for referral to law enforcement and security agencies of aberrant patterns, whereupon a collaborative approach between health and security agencies is required to investigate further.

FIGURE 2.
Proposed enhanced model for systematic consideration of unnatural causes of outbreaks in public health response*.
FIGURE 2.
Proposed enhanced model for systematic consideration of unnatural causes of outbreaks in public health response*.
Other than incorporating pattern analysis into outbreak response as a reactive step, there is scope to develop proactive, automated algorithms for analyzing intelligence gathered on public infectious diseases surveillance websites and social media. Proactive, regular information sharing (such as operational level working groups) between sectors rather than reactive, situation-specific meetings of top-level committees would enhance biosecurity and confer the benefit of diverse perspectives on outbreak analysis.
Transforming our approach to bioterrorism across health and security sectors needs to be made from the grassroots and be incorporated into training programs. Risk analysis is very rarely used in public health, but could be incorporated into public health and epidemiology training. It may also be useful to have cross-sectoral training programs, where members of defense, police, and intelligence sectors spend time training in public health organizations and vice versa, as no other sector can replicate the critical mass of expertise in health. Placements in other agencies for training (such as defense and police trainees being placed in public health organizations and vice versa), will enhance mutual understanding and build enduring links to improve biosecurity. Vertical biosecurity programs in each sector are ineffective because the level of expertise required to deal with the public health aspects of bioterrorism is only available in large public health agencies.

CHALLENGES FOR BIOSECURITY INTO THE FUTURE

The category A-B-C framework for bioterrorism was developed long before the problem of DURC, and reflect predominant concerns in the cold war era around the Soviet Bioweapons program.23 Use of the A-B-C framework often assumes that perpetrators will be identified hostile states or terrorist groups. It also often assumes an ideological, political or religious motive, when the example of the insider threat shows that many other motives, including personal gain, may be at play. An important question to consider, particularly when reflecting on the insider threat and lessons from notable cases, is “Who profits?” Infectious disease is an industry, with many vested interest groups who could potentially profit from outbreaks. During an infectious diseases epidemic (such as Ebola), health agencies, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and other stakeholders, despite assumed good intentions, all stand to gain from the generation of business around the epidemic. It is naïve to assume that all stakeholders in an infectious diseases emergency are driven universally by altruistic motives. For example, in the Ivins case, which remains unresolved, he shot to prominence as an expert initially assisting the FBI in their investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter bombs in the United States, and had patents on anthrax vaccines. Human nature is universal, and the factors involved in the insider threat as described for crime, apply equally to bioterrorism.19,20 It is timely to review simplistic assumptions about motives for bioterrorism, as well as the category A-B-C framework for bioterrorism preparedness, its relevance for current issues and threats, and to preparedness policy.
In terms of models of biopreparedness, the United States takes a more integrated approach than many other countries, combining human, animal and agricultural threats, as well as man-made and natural threats. The current administration has adopted a preventive approach including soft diplomacy,48 supported by a national CDC with operational response capacity, and numerous expert committees.49 However, the underlying assumption remains that bioterrorism will be recognized as such, and that perpetrators will be hostile states or terrorist groups.
The concept of global health security was first introduced in 2001,50 and relaunched in 2014 as the “Global Health Security agenda” led by the U.S. CDC.51 The focus of this initiative is on improving international disease surveillance and response on the basis of IHR.12 The IHR focus on disease surveillance, detection, notification, reporting, response, and containment is health centric, with minimal recognition of other stakeholders or the need for aberrant pattern analysis. The IHR is also underpinned by the assumption of predominantly natural threats, and does not identify bioterrorism as a major threat. It is also somewhat ironic that following the launch of the Global Health Security initiative that the U.S. CDC was embroiled in a series of serious safety breaches involving anthrax, avian influenza, and Ebola.38,40
Legislative frameworks for public safety from bioterrorism may also need to be reviewed. It is sobering to reflect that in the Rajneesh case, the salmonella cultures were seized 12 months after the event, and that the Ivins investigation took almost 7 years. What if Rajneesh had been harboring smallpox, instead of Salmonella, in his laboratory? A pandemic or epidemic of a lethal infection would take days to weeks to spread around the world. It poses an unacceptably high risk to society if suspects are in possession of dangerous pathogens (such as Ebola, smallpox, or avian influenza) while investigations drag on for years. Given the reality of the insider threat and the demonstrated resistance of the scientific community to investigation of their own,18 traditional law enforcement approaches may not be suitable for investigating scientists suspected of bioterrorism. The insider threat must be acknowledged as a serious one in the era of DURC, and the rights of scientists should not outweigh the rights of the public if there is a risk of harm. It may be necessary to consider legislation which allows urgent intervention and precedence of the rights of the community over individual rights for suspected bioterrorism.
Finally, it is clear that systems, thinking, training in public health, legislation, and policies are lagging far behind momentous changes in science in the context of game-changing advances in DURC. The insider threat, conflict of interest, and ethical considerations in dual-use research are poorly addressed, with the debate to date heavily weighing in favor of the rights of scientists.46 These issues are not the exclusive domain of the health and medical research sectors—all sectors, including the community, health, science, law enforcement, and defense agencies need an equal seat at the table when making critical decisions about biosecurity. There is also a need for revision of human research ethics guidelines around dual-use research, as decisions made in 1 country may impact the rest of the world, and individuals who were not consulted nor consented to the research may be harmed by DURC.46
Bioterrorism is difficult to recognize, particularly if caused by pathogens that may also occur naturally. Current paradigms of epidemic response do not routinely consider unnatural causes of outbreaks, and need to be reformed. The critical mass and skills required to respond to natural or unnatural epidemics cannot be replicated in nonhealth sectors, necessitating better collaboration between sectors. The ability to respond rapidly to bioterrorism threats once recognized, is further hampered by inadequate legislative frameworks. These problems combine to create major vulnerability in biosecurity within the current environment. Approaches to reducing risk include cross-sectoral training and capacity building in threat recognition, mechanisms for routine referral of aberrant epidemic patterns from public health agencies to law enforcement, better governance of DURC, awareness, and management of the insider threat, use of risk analysis calculations for regulating DURC, and improved legislation to allow rapid intervention for suspected bioterrorism. A quantum change in approach, collective, informed, transparent decision-making, and integrated cross-sectoral models of operation are required to improve global biopreparedness in a dangerous new era.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

11:16 AM 4/1/2020 - Look at the Coronavirus map of New York City, it speaks for itself: This is the real Collusion: Trump + Russian Mafia! They conspired to bring to reality the old dream of Trump's: to get rid of the NYC eyesore, its public housing projects, and to build the luxury housing instead, making themselves the tens of billions of bloody $$$.

8:42 PM 4/1/2020 - Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Coronavirus Could Spread Through Pipes in Buildings, Officials Fear

Is this the WAR of the Russian Mob - TOC on the Italian Mafia - Cosa Nostra? It is going on for long time. Look into this. - 8:24 AM 3/30/2020

12:14 PM 3/28/2020 - REPRINT: Application of a Risk Analysis Tool to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) Outbreak in Saudi Arabia

6:23 AM 3/29/2020 - The War on America: The Coronavirus Pandemic is the greatest failure of the US Intelligence in History. | "There was almost certainly an early and undetected introduction of the virus into the city, probably in mid- to late January, said Benjamin Cowling, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong." - nytimes.com | "Regardless of the source of the coronavirus, it is now a roadmap for future bioterrorism. The damage has been quick and enormous — much greater than 9/11 — and worldwide. The responses have been predictable and ineffective." | America is Truth and Justice. We will get to the bottom of everything, eventually. Investigate the Brainless and Treacherous FBI!!! - M.N.

9:51 AM 4/1/2020 - M.N.: Is Coronavirus Epidemic in NYC a plot by the Russian Mafia to introduce the virus into the NYC projects housing, following the pattern of the Hong Kong outbreak of SARS in 2003, so they could get rid of the projects and build their expensive multi-billion dollars luxury housing instead?! | The SARS epidemic in Hong Kong: what lessons have we learned?

6:28 PM 5/7/2020 - Blogs | In Brief - Review: For our most Brilliant Intelligence Services and their exceptional and talented Analysts...

8:43 AM 3/27/2020 - Coronavirus Transmission: My Hypothesis: COVID-19 is used as a Bioweapon

Review: Sars-Cov-2, Porcine Coronaviruses, and African Swine Fever Infections: is there a connection? - 5.18.20