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Department of Defense studying 'Disease X' which could wipe out all humanity

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
6/20/2018 (3 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Scientists now have the technology to create diseases from scratch.

The Department of Defense has received a report that scientists are able to create custom diseases from scratch. The report was commissioned to help the Department to decide how best to prepare and defend against potential threats. 

A single doctor or a small program could suffice to create a pathogen that could kill billions of people around the world.

A single doctor or a small program could suffice to create a pathogen that could kill billions of people around the world.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
6/20/2018 (3 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Department of Defense, disease X, virus, bacteria, microbes, biowarfare, terrorism


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Disease X is a hypothetical disease, but the threat it poses to humanity is quite real. Imagine a disease, engineered from scratch, intended to kill. 

The disease would be engineered to spread quickly and easily, via multiple vectors. People would be contagious before they developed symptoms. Finally, the disease would debilitate and kill quickly, making it hard to treat.

No such disease exists in nature. However, one could be created by editing the genes of an existing disease, or from creating a new one from scratch. Such a pathogen could wipe out humanity within months. 

And all it would take is a single mad scientist on a mission to cull the human herd, or to end the human race as we know it. 

The threat is real, which is why the Department of Defense is exploring options to defend against it. 

The report used non-classified information, so it contains no information that could identify a group that may be developing such weapons. 

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Eckard Wimmer at Stony Brook University in New York recreated poliovirus in a lab. That work set off a public debate over the ethics of creating deadly diseases in a laboratory. At that time, performing such a feat of genetic engineering was remarkable and required time and effort and a host of special equipment. Today, the genetic code of most viruses can be found freely online. 

Other concerns include the modification of existing, common microbes to turn them deadly. 

Ultimately, if a person or a nation with the proper expertise and equipment wanted to create such a disease and release it into the world, we would probably find ourselves helpless against the threat. 

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