By Letter to the Editor on June 8, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic – with its devastating effect on life and livelihood – may be a dress rehearsal for future biological and economic warfare.
The number of fatalities worldwide as well as the high unemployment rates and paralyzing slowdown of national economies are staggering. Never before have factories, businesses, restaurants, sports, conferences, churches, schools, colleges, universities and air travel been shut down globally at this scale – with a ripple effect on most sectors of society.
Whether terrorists or other haters of the West released the virus deliberately or not, anyone pondering biological or economic warfare will watch the unfolding of the pandemic closely. They now know: a microbe can bring the world to its knees in a few months.
Health and wealth are interrelated. They need each other. When countries prioritize health in the pandemic, wealth suffers severely, and vice versa. The virus has humanity in a choke hold.
If terrorists would have threatened in January to kill 80,000 people and 30 million jobs in the U.S. within three months, nobody would have believed them. Sadly, it happened. The strongest country in the world is struggling to cope.
In contrast, China only had 4,600 fatalities. It looks suspicious and leaves room for conspiracy theories. Did they have a vaccine for this virus, and immunized their population beforehand? Was Wuhan’s lockdown a show to mislead the world?
While scientists rush to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, the bad guys may be developing a deadlier one. High-risk disease labs and their staff should be well protected.
In the present pandemic, we still had food, internet, television and electricity. Imagine the chaos, anxiety, and frustration if these four would be disrupted by cyber-attacks amid a pandemic.
Military forces and police cannot fight microbial and cyberspace terrorism with guns and bombs; they must become experts on these new battlefields, too.
People living in areas prone to natural disasters prepare themselves with plans and equipment for such crises. Leaders and populations should do the same to survive biological, economic, and cyber-attacks.
Jacob Van Zyl