Image: United Nations (Unsplash)
Bioterrorism contributes in facilitating terrorist operations. One can define bioterrorism as the deliberate use of biological warfare mediums such as viruses, bacteria and fungi – for hostile purposes and intent to cause disease or death among human beings, animals and plants. These pathogens are very harmful as they can spread to humans, thus posing a great threat to human life. It is so unfortunate that the world is believed to have encountered acts related to bioterrorism in the past such as the breakout of anthrax. Anthrax was found as “highly likely” to be a result of bioterrorism. In 2001 there were confirmed cases of inhalational and cutaneous anthrax in the United States. This led to the death of some people who were exposed to anthrax spores. Therefore, with the world currently going through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impacts, it is difficult not to have questions and wonder if the coronavirus was deliberately made.
COVID-19 has been proven to be very infectious and fatal. It has spread worldwide with approximately 33 million confirmed cases and about 1 million deaths globally. These numbers show how life threatening COVID-19 is. Experts say that people who have high blood pressure and those aged 60 and above are at higher risk of losing their lives if they happen to contract COVID-19. A majority of people above 60 years old are not necessarily accepted in economic industries. Due to their age, they are often perceived as less productive in the economy, hence the need for younger people to work towards stabilising economies. This raises concerns about why the elderly have lesser chances of surviving COVID-19 than the youth. Could this be a way of taking them out because their lives are no longer valued as they are unable to contribute as much to the economy? Or could this be a way of controlling human population through the loss of lives? It is no doubt that state leaders and even the world at large are more concerned about development and economic growth. This expresses a negative view that human life is devalued.
Bioterrorism acts are confirmed by proof of deliberate genetic manipulation. Scientists from Norway made allegations that the virus that causes COVID-19 aka SARS-CoV-2, was manmade. This raises speculations as it was also revealed that Wuhan lab scientists wrote articles about the manipulation of coronaviruses. Therefore, this may indicate that COVID-19 was perhaps created on purpose. It is noteworthy that China reported the first cases of COVID-19 to the World Health Organization (WHO). China, however, appears to be controlling the virus as it only has about 85 000 confirmed cases and 4 634 deaths. This could possibly be caused by the fact that China does really well in the pharmaceutical industry. They are able to produce medication that helps to keep COVID-19 under control. China produces the majority of medication globally. This shows that with most medications, many countries are reliant on China. He further points out that with the whole world going through the pandemic, China could possibly be keeping most of the medication to themselves, thus bankrupting other pharmacies. Moreover, that could perhaps be a way to ensure that their citizens do not run out of medication that could help prevent COVID-19 as there is an uncertainty as to when the pandemic will end or when its cure will be found. This leaves other countries at more risk due to the lack of medication.
With the competition and trade war between China and the United States (US), this makes one wonder if this pandemic is paving a way for China to replace the US and become the greatest economy in the world while leaving the rest of the world in turmoil. It is clear that without a COVID-19 vaccine or a cure, the world will continue to endure the impacts of the virus. Even though the WHO has implemented rules such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand washing, as a means of preventing the spread of the pandemic, people are still contracting COVID-19 and for some it is proving fatal. For instance, South Africa (SA) has reported more than 600 000 confirmed cases and over 16 000 deaths. The health representative, Dr Bandile Masuku mentioned that the COVID-19 spike will worsen until mid-August. This has led to the country preparing 1.5 million graves for mass burials, which has caused more fear amongst SA citizens as the government is preparing for the worst.
What raises more suspicion of bioterrorism is that earlier this year a US journalist claimed that 1 million body bags were delivered to South Africa, which was said to be untrue. South Africa, however, had been preparing over a million graves after the claim that 1 million body bags getting delivered to the country during a pandemic is just too convenient, thus suspicious. The country has a high population, this raises fear that COVID-19 could be used as a tool to reduce the population, which may indicate signs of bioterrorism. It is disappointing that officials are also taking advantage of the current situation, as there are allegations of pandemic-linked corruption. The SA government received a $4.3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to sustain the country during the pandemic. Health officials have faced corruption allegations linked to the government’s COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts. This shows that corrupt officials misuse the funds, in which case, if COVID-19 is an act of bioterrorism they are facilitating the act as a means of gaining money from the IMF which they may exploit for their own benefit. This is unbecoming because it puts people’s lives in greater danger. It is unacceptable that democratic countries such as SA still lack transparency.
With the whole world working together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, there is hope that a cure will be found and things will get improve.
Tandzile Gama is from the Kingdom of Eswatini. She is a final year student in the degree BPolSci, International Studies at the University of Pretoria. She is interested in International Relations and hopes to make the world a better place.