Bioterrorism? Child`s play

  • 27/02/2003

At a recent meeting of the World Medical Association in usa, doctors warned that terrorists could very easily get hold of biological weapons. Donald Henderson, senior advisor on bioterrorism to the us government, said: "At the top of the list is smallpox, followed by anthrax, plague and botulinum toxin.'

According to Henderson, many former scientists of the Soviet Union are till date unemployed. These people can help a dissident group or a state to produce bioweapons. Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics and science department at the British Medical Association, the uk, said it would just cost us $1 million to buy the equipment needed to make weapons-grade material. "They should be watching who's got the equipment, who's got the machinery, who's doing something they're not publishing or not talking about,' she said.

She warned that a bioterrorism assault could claim more lives than last year's attacks on the us. The doctors stated that dealing with such an assault would need the same systems and strategies as any other infectious disease. Early detection would be the key to minimising its impact.

"What is important is to ensure that people coming for training in the Western countries are of an appropriate background. We should not risk taking people who want to use the knowledge they gain in a wrong way,' said Brian Duerden, director of the Public Health Laboratory Service, the uk.