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Law on " Bio- terrorism"

Parliamentary panel bats for laws to counter bio-terrorism

HOW IT IS RELATED TO UPSC : It’s a current development which would be relevant under the topic “ International Terrorism” | Subject : International Law | Paper 1

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health said in its report, ‘The outbreak of Pandemic COVID-19 and its management” that it is the most appropriate time for the government to formulate effective laws. Covid-19 has taught a lesson that effective laws are the need of the hour to counter bio-terrorism. It is of the opinion that deadly virus like Corona virus can be used as bio-logical weapons in enemy nations.

What is bio terrorism?

Bio terrorism means the use of bacteria, viruses, or germs to harm large quantities of people or communities. It is a planned and deliberate use of pathogenic strains of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or their toxins to spread life-threatening diseases on a mass scale in order to devastate the population of an area.It is spread through air, water or food sources, and threatens people, government and nations.

Some of the deadliest biological weapons are Anthrax, Botulinum Toxin, Francisella Tularensis, Aflatoxin. During World War I, German and French used biological warfare agents such as glanders and anthrax.

There are three types of bio terrorism agents-

  • Category A- High-priority agents (Anthrax, Ebola virus)

  • Category B- Moderate-priority agents (Brucellosis, Q fever)

  • Category C- Low-priority agents (Yellow virus fever, Hantavirus)

The first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban the production of biological weapons is ‘Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, 1972’.

Suggestions given in the report

a)Low testing, poor contact tracing responsible for spike in COVID-19 cases.

b)Health Ministry should engage with agencies and actively participating in the international treaties.

c)Ministry should conduct more research and work towards training and capacity building for management of public health emergencies arising from the use of bio-weapons

The Department of Health and Family Welfare submitted a seven-point action plan for ensuring security against biological weapons. It includes the following-

  • Strengthening disease surveillance, including at animal-human interface, 

  • Training and capacity building for management of public health emergencies arising from use of bio-weapons and 

  • Strengthening research and surveillance activities related to development of diagnostics, vaccines and drugs.

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