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Congress leader shares picture of fiction novel, asks if coronavirus is a Chinese biological weapon

An excerpt from a 1981 book written by an American author talks elaborately about a bioweapon developed by the Chinese government called the Wuhan 400

February 17, 2020 / 02:59 PM IST
File image

File image


As the number of deaths reported due to infections from the coronavirus continues to rise, a leader of the Indian National Congress has questioned if the pathogen is a biological weapon developed by the Chinese.

Congress leader Manish Tewari took to Twitter on February 16 where he wrote, "Is Coranavirus a biological Weapon developed by the Chinese called Wuhan -400? This book was published in 1981. Do read the excerpt."

He also shared a picture of the cover of a fictional novel written in 1981 by American author Dean Koontz called ‘The Eyes of Darkness’, and a passage from the book.

The passage highlighted in the fictional story coincidentally described how a virus, called Wuhan 400, was developed in a research facility outside of the city of Wuhan, which ironically is the epicentre of the coronavirus.

The virus is called the "perfect weapon" in the novel as it could only affect humans, and cannot survive outside of a live human body, which reduces the risk of permanent contamination of objects and places.

As of February 17, the coronavirus, which first emerged in central China at the end of last year, has now killed nearly 1,800 people and spread around the world. The latest figures from China show there are more than 70,000 people infected in the country.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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(With inputs from PTI.)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Feb 17, 2020 02:55 pm

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