This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reading Terrorism's Lethal Threats

"The one thing I've always been concerned about in all my years in public safety, be it as police chief or [Ontario] commissioner of emergency management, is that the things you don't know are the things you fear the most."
"The only responsible thing ... is to prepare."
Julian Fantino, board member, Mackenzie Institute security think-tank

"It is among the most dangerous and lethal agents available for a bio-terror attack, with extraordinarily high mortality rates if people exposed to anthrax are not treated quickly."
"This information [who might be designated to] prophylactically [receive anthrax vaccine, is kept secret for] national security reasons."
"This information could end up in the hands of those who could use it to inform their plans to harm Canadians through an act of terrorism."
Rebecca Gilman, spokeswoman Public Health Agency Canada
One outside expert said the relatively small number of anthrax vaccine doses ordered by the Canadian government likely means it is stockpiling the vaccine to administer to first responders or health-care workers, but not the general public.
One outside expert said the relatively small number of anthrax vaccine doses ordered by the Canadian government likely means it is stockpiling the vaccine to administer to first responders or health-care workers, but not the general public.

"It's a strange number [dose being ordered of BioThrax by the Public Health Agency of Canada]."
"If you're talking about a mass inoculation effort, you would need hundreds of thousands or millions of doses."
Leonard Cole, expert on bio-terrorism, Rutgers University

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is taking delivery of 44.75 million doses of anthrax vaccine from its producer, Emergent Bio-Solutions of Michigan, as per a 2011 contract. Given the population of the United States, three times the amount of doses expected by the Centers for Disease Control, it's clear that the vaccine is not meant to be used for the entire population. Perhaps to target those in the population whose location, employment and critical positions make sense to inoculate. In any event, the order in the United States is 160 to 300 times greater than the number Canada has committed to.

Citing the bacteria for anthrax as being identified as "one of the most dangerous and lethal" biological agents, should it be used as a biological weapon, the Public Health Agency of Canada has seen fit to order up to 28,000 doses of anthrax vaccine. For a population of some 35-million. So obviously it is foreseen as a necessity to inoculate a limited number of Canadians, featured among them politicians, scientists, military and of course heads of government. Leaving, needless to say, the bulk of the population to fend for itself.

In the wake of the 9/11  terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, the United States went through a further shock when letters whose contents were identified as spores of the potentially lethal bacteria were addressed to and duly delivered to a number of media and political offices in the United States. Five Americans died as a result of being exposed to this highly virulent animal disease. The individual responsible was named as a government scientist who was mentally unstable.

With government agencies and political authorities focusing on the methods and madness of jihadist terrorist groups throughout the world wreaking havoc wherever they impose their murderously recognized version of the Koran's call to jihad running amok and challenging the fire power of those opposing them, the use of pathogens as weapons of mass destruction is a thought too far to contemplate. Yet, a Middle East regime professing to be in conflict with terrorism has been found responsible for using chemical weapons for mass destruction on its own population.

The use of bacterial agents as weapons of mass destruction is, under the circumstances, no far-fetched nightmare, though it is an acknowledged nightmarish scenario. Its potential for use as a weapon sees it as an enormous public health threat. The tender issued by Public Health Agency of Canada envisions the vaccine to be used as a preventive measure and also prophylactically, once people have been exposed to anthrax. The bacteria kills 80 percent of those who breathe in the spores, indicating its threat level.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Global Affairs Canada     The Bacillus Anthracis bacteria that causes anthrax.

In contrast to Canada, the U.S. plans for enough of the vaccine to treat large populations exposed to anthrax, according to Michael Kuhlman, chief scientist for contract research at Battelle, a non-profit research group working with the American government on bio-terror defence. In addition, it could be used on people not yet exposed after an initial attack, on the assumption that increased assaults are on their way.

Mr. Kuhlman emphasized the potential of the threat, pointing out a report in 2015 that Islamic State jihadists had murdered a scientist at the University of Mosul in Iraq when he refused to aid them in the development of a biological-weapons program. Earlier, at the time the Taliban crumbled under the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Qaeda was developing an anthrax factory there.

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