Understanding the Threat of Biological Weapons in a World with COVID-19   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Introduction: "Threats posed by biological weapons have been evolving for nearly a century. However, the pace of change has been accelerating in recent years due to several intersecting trends, including the accessibility of sophisticated biotechnology tools, plunging costs of sequencing and synthesis, and the convergence of new technology areas (e.g., synthetic biology, AI [Artificial Intelligence]/machine learning, and robotics). In 2020, a new set of dynamics around biological weapons emerged as a result of widespread failures of many nations around the world to effectively respond to the global spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 [Coronavirus Disease 2019]. After more than two years of global efforts to contain the spread of this highly transmissible disease, world leaders are still unable to discern the threat parameters of a COVID-19 era. However, one thing remains clear: the ongoing crisis could profoundly alter how countries perceive biological weapons and how these weapons may advance their security interests. For the hopefully-small number of nations that may consider biological weapons, the human, security, and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to shape their views regarding the deliberate use of disease to cause disruption and destruction. [...] In this paper, we present findings from our 'futures research' in which we investigated 1) the incentives and disincentives for the development of biological weapons; 2) historical signals related to biological weapons; and 3) other trends, issues, and problems."

2022 The Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks
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