The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

After living through the last three years with the benefits of what is arguably gain-of-function research continuously raining down on the globe, I started wondering two things. One, why isn’t gain-of-function classified as biological weapons research? And two, what other biological weapons are lurking out there to surprise us when we least expect it?

What’s the meaning of a biological weapon, anyway?

Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants. They can be deadly and highly contagious. Obviously, diseases caused by such weapons would not confine themselves to national borders and could spread rapidly around the world.

That’s an unsettling concept, isn’t it? I felt slightly better after reading that, in the spring of 1972, 87 nations came together to sign a disarmament treaty known as the Biological Weapons Convention. Effectively, this treaty banned biological or bioterror weapons by prohibiting their development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use. The list of member states has now grown to 184, with 10 states still refusing to sign or ratify the treaty. And the Soviet Union, Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria and Cuba have all been accused of being in non-compliance with the treaty at one time or another.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

Each signer of the Biological Weapons Convention swore on behalf of their nations to “never in any circumstances develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.”

Oh, yikes. Did you see the line I emphasized? So, all that mad scientists would need to do is justify their bioweapons with a prophylactic, protective or peaceful purpose, and suddenly they aren’t really bioweapons anymore?

Speaking of peaceful purposes, does anyone remember this viral 2020 article, written by a Harvard Professor of Medical Ethics, proposing that cities secretly lace their drinking water with psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, because he thought it would make people more compliant with mask wearing?

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

Has anyone here ever been around people high on magic mushrooms? Does “compliant” come to mind when you think of that experience?

On the topic of lacing the water for peaceful purposes, has anyone heard about the Texas Tranquilizer in El Paso? Back in 1971, Time Magazine featured the fact that El Paso’s water source is heavily laced with naturally occurring lithium, and hypothesized the city is tranquilizing its residents. The article points out that, in 1970, Dallas, Texas, which had a population of 844,000 at the time, had 242 murders in one year. El Paso, on the other hand, at 38% of Dallas’ population with 323,000 residents, only had 13 murders the same year.

I pulled up some recent data to see if this trend continued. In 2015, Dallas’ population was at 1.3 million and El Paso was a little more than half that at 675,000. That year, Dallas experienced 136 murders—one of the lowest rates in their history—but El Paso only had 17.

It looks like the lithium water effect has held. Just a few summers ago, I went swimming in a Florida lithium spring and I noticeably didn’t feel like killing anyone for the rest of the day, so there’s some anecdotal evidence for you.

Back to the Biological Weapons Convention

Several months ago, a good friend asked me to do some research on America’s biowarfare policies and, instead, I fell down the rabbit hole on self-spreading vaccines, which are also called self-transmissible vaccines, self-propagating vaccines and self-disseminating vaccines. Let’s be serious. No nation is going to have the policy that they’re free to make biological weapons after they signed a treaty 50 years ago saying they won’t. They’re going to conduct biological warfare research in the name of biological defense, and essentially get away with doing whatever they like. And creating self-spreading vaccines lets them do exactly that.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

When Do We Become the Animals?

On October 9, 2018, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a 71-page document called Technologies to Address Global Catastrophic Biological Risks, where one or another variation of the word “vaccine” appears 255 times.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

The executive summary reads, “Self-spreading vaccines are genetically engineered to move through populations like communicable diseases, but rather than causing disease, they confer protection. The vision is that a small number of individuals in a target population could be vaccinated, and the vaccine strain would then circulate in the population much like a pathogenic virus, resulting in rapid, widespread immunity.”

Did your heart just skip a beat? What could possibly go wrong with unleashing new vaccines to circulate in the population? How are scientists expecting to prevent animal disease that infects humans by unleashing animal vaccines that aren’t going to impact humans? Not to mention the fact that it looks like informed consent has permanently left the conversation.

On page 14 of the document, a graph shows that the organization considers self-spreading animal vaccines to be both “high impact” and “field ready,” meaning the self-spreading animal vaccines are locked and loaded and ready to roll.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

If you want to jump to the self-spreading vaccine section of the document, scroll down to page 45. One section reads, “Self-spreading vaccines have already been used to protect wild rabbits from myxomatosis and to control Sin Nombre virus in rodent populations. Additional work is targeting Ebola virus in apes and bats, Lassa virus in rats, and bovine tuberculosis in badgers.”

And then come the five kickers.

·      “In the event of a grave public health threat, self-spreading vaccines could potentially be used to broadly inoculate human populations.”

·      “One important component of the current vaccination approach for humans is the informed consent process. In the case of self-spreading vaccines, the individuals directly vaccinated would have this option, but those to whom the vaccine subsequently spreads would not.”

·      “Self-spreading vaccines would potentially infect individuals with contraindications, such as allergies, that could be life threatening.”

·      “There is not an insignificant risk of the vaccine virus reverting to wild-type virulence. This is both a medical risk and a public perception risk.”

·      “The ethical and regulatory challenges surrounding informed consent and prevention and monitoring of adverse events would be critical challenges to implementing this approach.”

Did you read that? Pesky informed consent is going to need to be overcome, as is monitoring adverse events, and then it’ll be smooth sailing.

Is This Research Happening in the US?

Of course, it is.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, our National Institutes of Health funded Scott Nuismer, a Professor at the University of Idaho, in his quest to create a mathematical framework for understanding the ecology and evolution of transmissible vaccines, and for him to test the emerging mathematical results using an experimental viral system.  

University of Idaho has a program called Transmissible Vaccines, or Trans Vax, at their Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation. They work in coordination with UC Davis and the PREEMPT project, or Preventing Emerging Pathogenic Threats, which is a DARPA project within our Department of Defense.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

In February 2019, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine announced a $9.37M award to work in collaboration with the University of Idaho to “…bolster the fight against emerging infectious disease.” The announcement says that DARPA challenges them to “…contain viruses before they ever endanger humans,” and that the school will be focused on Lassa virus and Ebola virus—two of three pathogens Johns Hopkins named for upcoming self-spreading vaccines.

In January 2022, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an Associate Professor in Science & International Security at King’s College, London, issued a warning that the long-held belief that “…modifying self-spreading viruses in a laboratory is too unstable to be used safely and predictably” is now being challenged.

That article, entitled “Eroding Norms Over Release of Self-Spreading Viruses,” cries out for researchers to see that “A single unwanted introduction of a genetically modified viral biocontrol agent could have serious consequences.” And, among numerous other logistical and ethical problems, “The extraordinary practical complexity of wildlife vaccination, particularly in terms of sustaining and monitoring the immune response in wildlife populations, has not been explicitly addressed by funders or scientists promoting self-spreading vaccines.”

Vaccines Are an Exception to the Biological Weapons Convention

While the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention crafters did not foresee viral gain-of-function or self-spreading vaccines as a future biological warfare possibility, in 1991, the Biological Weapons Convention States Parties agreed to “strengthen the treaty” by adding a “confidence-building measure,” which was to require member states to annually declare information on their own vaccine production facilities.

The New Bioterrorism: Self-Spreading Vaccines

It looks to me, that even 32 years ago, heads of state suspected vaccine facilities were going to be a source of biological weapons. Sadly, member states don’t seem to be complying with these requirements, there is no enforcement, no repercussions, and it’s been difficult to monitor a treaty involving biological weapons because only small quantities are required for enormous impact.

In a 2011 commentary on the global noncompliance entitled “Hard to Prove,” Filippa Lentzos, the same professor from the recent “Eroding Norms” article, argued that, “It will ultimately be up to state parties to demonstrate the political will necessary to develop measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention through effective compliance monitoring and verification measures, either through a new legally binding instrument or through building and augmenting existing provisions.”

Why doesn’t any member state step up and enforce the confidence-building measures? Does the bioweapon treaty even have teeth? Or are we living under a false sense of security? A 2003 report by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a global security organization founded by Ted Turner, noted, “Even the most dangerous pathogens and toxins cannot be banned outright because of their dual-use nature, including the development of vaccines.” Great. Then what’s the point of it all?

The Biological Weapons Convention meets every five years, and, in fact, just had a meeting in December. Perhaps, if we all engaged in a campaign to get our US Senators and Congressmen and women on board, we could get self-spreading vaccines added to the list of prohibited items that shall never be developed, produced or stockpiled.

Source: leviquackenboss

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