Terrorists could use Covid-style virus ‘to bring new pandemic’, warns expert

A top defence expert has warned that the Covid pandemic may have given terrorists ideas for how to weaponise other infectious diseases.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused close to three million deaths, and wrecked economic across the globe.

"While it was almost certainly not conceived as a weapon,” warns chemical weapons expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, “the spread of Covid-19 has provided a template for terrorists, as well as Russia and China, for how effective a biological weapon could be."

Writing in Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Colonel de Bretton-Gordon called for an international monitoring group to be set up to keep an eye on labs where deadly bioweapons could be manufactured.

He added that bioweapons presented a bigger threat than conventional weaponry: "I hope the politicians are not over-prioritising bombs and bullets when pathogens actually pose a more realistic threat to British lives.

The review will be published this week and Boris Johnson said of the document: "The foundation of our foreign policy is who we are as a country: our values, our strengths and – most importantly – our people.

"So I am determined to ensure we have a foreign policy that delivers for those people.

"Our international ambitions must start at home, and through the Integrated Review we will drive investment back into our communities, ensuring the UK is on the cutting-edge of innovation and creating an entire country that is match-fit for a more competitive world.”

Responding to an early draft of the report, which is set to be published on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The foundation of our foreign policy is who we are as a country: our values, our strengths and – most importantly – our people.

"So I am determined to ensure we have a foreign policy that delivers for those people.

"Our international ambitions must start at home, and through the Integrated Review we will drive investment back into our communities, ensuring the UK is on the cutting-edge of innovation and creating an entire country that is match-fit for a more competitive world."

Colonel de Bretton-Gordon has previously called for more control over the sales of chlorine, which is used for perfectly innocent purposes but can also be repurposed as a chemical weapon and added “Somebody could go to a waste site where people chuck away fridges and get a whole bunch of these things and blow them up.”

He has also raised concerns about the potential of further Novichok attacks in the wake of the Salisbury attack.

Writing in the Guardian, he warned that a similar attack in a large city such as Sydney: "Let’s say for a start the Central Business District is cordoned and unusable for six months. Millions terrified to go into the city and a 35% reduction in business takings, with millions of tourists avoiding visiting."

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