A Review of the Government Sponsored Offensive Biological Programs, Weaponized Biological Pathogens and their Countermeasures
Since the beginning of the 20th century humanity’s capacity for warfare and death has evolved at an ever increasing rate. The horse was quickly replaced by the automobile and the rifle by the machine gun. The use of biological weapons (bioweapons) took the same leap forward from medics fighting battlefield illness to strategic weapons of mass destruction. The two largest research programs, the Soviet and United States of America (US), operated for decades at the height of their scientific fields developing and stockpiling biological weapons with the capability to kill thousands more cost-efficiently than any weapon previously designed. All of these weapons were developed from naturally occurring human pathogens and most of the research is still classified. Many of these pathogens account for only a minimal number, if any, of disease cases each year within the US. The rarity of many of these diseases makes it difficult for medical personnel to diagnosis. The delay in diagnosis and treatment can affect the outcome for the patient and drastically increase the risk of an outbreak. This capstone covered a selection of the bioweapons produced by these two programs, their historical importance, clinical symptoms, and the available countermeasures in the case of exposure. It then opened a discussion on the selection criteria modern bioweapons programs may utilize in the 21st century and the role many of these pathogens play as public health risks. Finally it addressed many of the new developments and policies implemented by the US to tackle and minimize these risks.