The Day Before Tomorrow, In Beijing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“This meeting of the State Committee for National Security will come to order.  First item of business, a report on biological warfare research.  Minister? Minister?  Uh, does anybody know where the Minister is?”
“Excuse me, sir. I’m from that department.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Assistant to the Junior Deputy’s Secretary.”
“Where’s everybody else?”
“Dead, sir.  Or missing.”
“WHAT?  What’s going on in your department?”
“Well, sir, we used gene splicing to engineer a virus targeted at a specific racial group and the lab tests went so well that we needed a larger scale test.  The plan was to release the virus in an enemy city but the scientist carrying the vial got car-jacked and the vial shattered.”
“Has the population been quarantined so they don’t spread it?”
“Too late for that, sir.  Most of the infected fled the city before the quarantine was announced.  They’re currently spreading the virus around the globe.”
“How bad is it?”
“Well, sir, that depends on who you ask.  Our official press releases claim the virus is less deadly than influenza, hardly anybody is infected and practically nobody has died.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
“Yes, sir, that’s why we said it.  The truth is we have no idea how many people are infected and no treatment for those who are. Millions could die.”
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt, Mr. Chairman, I just have to ask this young man: Are You Insane?  Did you actually attempt to genetically engineer a virus to target a race?”
“Yes, we did.  Why?”
“Because race is merely a social construct.  There’s no such thing as race.  We’re All Going to Die!”
“In that case, sir, motion to adjourn.”
Joe Doakes

And SCENE

7 thoughts on “The Day Before Tomorrow, In Beijing

  1. I suppose it is possible to build a virus that can harm only people with certain genetic characteristics. But you can’t stop the virus from mutating.

  2. Scott – good article. Thankfully, when they bio-engineered that flu, they didn’t have it turn the victims into zombies.

  3. A virus as a bioweapon is immensely impractical. If it can jump from birds or pigs to people, and is highly contagious, how do you keep your own people safe? The only thing you can bank on is that people who are initially less healthy will suffer a higher mortality than the initially healthy. Hard to see how the Chinese can leverage that.

  4. If two people of Han Chinese ancestry produce a child, it’s highly unlikely the child we have very dark skin, a pronounced brow ridge, large lips, kinky hair. I’m not qualified to explain why Asians produce Asians instead of Negros, but that certainly seems to be the way it works.

    What if the Chinese could engineer a virus that only attacked people having Negroid genetic traits? Not the 99.99% everybody shares, only the ones responsible for what laymen notice as physical characteristics?

    What if they could build an “if-then” switch into the virus: if Asian, then stop. All others die.

    Those are the Sci-Fi doomsday fears that responsible scientists assure us are ridiculous fear mongering. They’re probably right. It probably is ridiculous.

    And yet . . . .

  5. Kinda hard for the 21st Century to be Chinas if there is a virus that only targets them. Sidenote, Less than 5 days after this was reported to the WHO and before there were any US cases reported there were Chinese exchange students walking around with surgical masks on in Dinkytown. That was… a bit disconcerting to say the least.

  6. But the virus would mutate, Joe Doakes. If it does not mutate, if it keys in on a specific genetic sequence and cannot be altered and reproduce, it could be targeted easily by a vaccine.
    But of course, if it reproduces, it might mutate in such a way that the “kill switch” that keeps it from reproducing if it mutates fails.
    There is a law of large numbers thing going on. Chemotherapy doesn’t always work because the cancer cells that are affected by the chemo do not reproduce, while the cancer cells that survive chemo do reproduce.

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