Thursday, 27 October 2011

Bio-terrorism and the cure for the common cold


Sooner or later someone will use a bioterrorism technique to release a pandemic which actually helps people! It could be that the common cold is it's first target.

How to catch a cold

Everyone knows how easy it is to catch a cold but there are some things about the process that aren't common knowledge. Let's try an experiment. While you read this don't touch your eyes!

Imagine someone with a cold gets in a lift. They sneeze and a fine mist of spray spreads everywhere. It quickly settled though. They get to their floor and exit the lift. You call the lift from two floors down and the first thing you do when you get in is to press the button to select your floor. A button covered by a fine spray of cold virus.

So now you have the cold virus on your finger. Not a big problem, it's unlikely to get through the skin on your finger. Of course you could infect yourself with a cold by now eating something.

Touched or want to touch your eyes yet?

As you've probably found out by now, we touch our eyes all the time and as soon as you do, that  virus finds a warm, moist very thin membrane and promptly infects you. Ever noticed how a cold can make your eyes sore?

Deliberately spreading contagion

Now imagine a terrorist intent on using biological warfare. A good way to spread contagion would be to spread their substance on anything which people frequently touch. Lift buttons, push plates on doors, door handles, shopping cart handles, magazines in a shop,  newspapers and books in a library. Money! Forget the idea of sending letters. There are a huge number of ways of spreading any virus using things we touch.

Why there's no cure or vaccine

Now imagine a genetic researcher who has made a fantastic discovery. He/she has come up with a genetic fix which will forever stop people from catching the common cold.

Would you buy it assuming it's 100% safe and costs little? Of course you would!

So if this had been produced do you think you would get the opportunity? Frankly you would have as much chance as a celluloid cat being chased by an asbestos dog through the fires of Hell!

"Why?" I hear you ask. "If it was safe why wouldn't it be available?"

The answer is simple. The people who would be marketing this are the very people who make a fortune  every year by selling cold remedies. Are they ever going to willingly give up those billions of dollars of regular income?

That's why there are really no serious research projects into curing or preventing the common cold. None of the so called remedies actually cure a cold. If you buy them you might, if you are lucky, get some slight relief from the symptoms ...and you can get that effect with a simple home remedy. Here's the recipe:

An effective homemade cold remedy

In a tall glass:
  • add 2 fingers depth whiskey (cheap stuff)
  • add 2 fingers depth honey
  • add 2 fingers depth lemon juice
  • Fill the glass with hot water, stir well and drink.
  • Go to bed with a good book and relax or sleep it off.
If you find your symptoms are not better after an hour or so repeat.

Now I know what some of you are going to say. "I don't like whiskey," but believe me - this tastes nothing like it. It tastes good, relieves a sore throat, relieves congestion and after three of them you won't care about the cold!

OK - free advice over; now let's consider something else.

What bio-terrorism has to do with a cure

During the course of researching the first of our 'A Vested Interest' books - 'Immortality Gene' I had occasion to investigate gene therapy. It would be possible to alter a virus so that it inserts genes which prevent the common cold. If the virus remained infective, eventually everyone would find themselves immune to the cold virus.  Imagine a genetic researcher has produced that cold cure. It really works and he knows it's safe. But he/she can't market it for the reasons explained above. He/she can't announce it either without putting their life at risk. There's a multi-billion dollar industry at stake here remember?

The researcher knows the people of the world want the cure though. Does that researcher have the right to deny them it? Should they risk the wrath of the drug companies to make it available?

I think you'll find that the researcher would adopt the bio-terrorist tactics to release his/her product.

Sooner or later some well meaning person will do this!


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11 comments:

  1. Great post! Looking forward to the book! As for the cold remedy, can I just drink the bourbon?

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  2. Drinking just the bourbon won't clear congestion or sooth a sore throat but if you drink enough that won't matter. I wouldn't use anything expensive if you are going to add lemon juice and honey - any old rubbish will do. Maybe a use for that cheap stuff you got three Christmases ago?

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  3. That was a really interesting post.

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  4. yaeh, I've read fingers are biggest transporters of germs..not thrilled he may have given terrorists ideas-not that they need them-and yeah, absolutely,it's why they'll never be a cure for cancer..will put people out of work....why do think they call bug killing 'pest control'...operative word is 'control'...

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  5. @Jack There are technical problems to overcome in spreading a virus like this. Any terrorist smart enough to figure these out will be well aware of how to spread it so I'm not giving anything away.

    Spreading a bacteria using this method would be a waste of time.

    Next time you read horror stories of biological agents being spread in underground railway systems - relax. If they are dumb enough to use that method then they are dumb enough to be easily be captured.

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  6. I would hope you're right. But in the meantime researchers as heroes sound like a great fiction plot. I look forward to reading it

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  7. I've rarely found blog posts that tell stories that really grab my attention. I've just added this blog to my follow list.

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  8. @Marilyn Already written and so too are the next 4 books in the series. There's a link next to 'About me'

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  9. On a related note, if you were a big pharma company or two that had the patents on adjuvants that had a 100% immune destructive impact on mammals, but you could make billions in revenues from using it in vaccines, like, say, the anthrax vaccine given to many of our troops in the gulf war, would you do it, even if you knew it would cause varying degrees of auto-immune disorders - i.e., a la Gulf War Syndrome?

    Would you create a cohort group to get it legalized in Europe, and stack it full of the elderly, who when they go to their doctor complaining of the beginning signs of auto-immune breakdown, like joint pain, fatigue, general malaise, they're told it's because they're getting old?

    Ain't greed wonderful? As a thriller writer, I don't even have to invent conspiracies to fuel my books. The truth is so much less believable than fiction, I just have to try to tone the truth down enough so it sounds plausible.

    I hope you're right about the altruistic genetic engineer, and everyone should hope my scenario is a flight of fancy. Or research it, and pucker up.

    Great blog.

    I make things up. Sometimes I don't. And sometimes it's really hard to tell when I'm doing so, or not.

    Russell Blake
    http://RussellBlake.com

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  10. Thanks Russell. I understand exactly what you mean. I recently read that the Flu shots given to the elderly are effective in preventing flu in less than 2% of the people given it but have quite nasty side effects in a greater percentage. Since only 3 out of 100 get the flu normally the manufacturers claim a 60% success rate. Certainly something worth further study.

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  11. Tried the whiskey a few times, didn't work! I was up all night singing.

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