The Potential Evolution of the Zombie Virus, Part 3: The Possibilities of Biological Weaponization Today
Prologue, Philosophy and Politics
Although this topic really falls in the realm of fiction, not simply because of the economics and morality of the issue, military and military-funded private research and development should not progress easily in biological warfare, with United Nations and opposing countries always looking over each other’s shoulders. With nuclear weapons at least kept in check somewhat even between the most conniving of nations, they cannot escape satellite imagery catching them in the act, and escaping with biological warfare is just as difficult. Unlike nuclear weaponry, biological warfare development is manageable as an industry, even in the most depressing economic times. History has shown us that in World War I, the Korean War and other wars in the past. In 1972, however, biological weapons were outlawed throughout the world by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and have been further ratified by 163 countries, as of 2009. Many countries fortunately can still pursue research into defense and protection from biological warfare, which is not prohibited by the BWC. Recently, as of 2001, Iraq admitted to the United Nations the production of biological weapons, specifically 19,000 liters of concentrated botulinum toxin. On September 18, 2001, a few members of the United States Congress were victims of an anthrax attack. However, the perpetrators of this attack has yet to be identified to this day.
Unfortunately, some private biotech company like Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil series would be hard to remain unnoticed in the era of satellites, YouTube and worldwide streaming news. With even a hint of alleged animal testing or creation of biological weapons, animal rights activists and other protesters would be on their front doorstep, protesting and streaming their illegally-obtained digital photographs and videos all over the internet. There would be sufficient uproar for the biowarfare development to cease while government intervention, domestic and international, would put a stop to this immediately.
As for the artificial manufacturing of the said zombie virus, it would still rely on the rabies, avian flu and mad cow disease, as described in the previous part of this discussion. They would be easiest viral samples to mutate or otherwise manipulate their DNA and/or RNA structures. The resources for a large private biotech firm could easily create such a biological weapon, but they would have to be beyond secretive in this age of social media which would be nearly impossible. For most of North America, Australia and Europe, threats in the Middle East such as Iraq and Libya would have the resources available (from the oil production), but whether the have the knowledge to so remains in question.
Purpose and Product
Once something like a zombie virus is manufactured, the consumerism of such a product would be limited to the black market, even if developed legally under sanctioned regulators. That would defeat the purpose of creating it originally under proper regulations in the first place. The product, the zombie virus itself, could also quickly deteriorate unless given to a host immediately (such as a chimpanzee or other mammal). In that case, it could potentially destroy the very nation that was creating it, should the host escape its confines, which would be illogical and financially unsound for that country. However, a private biotech firm could hold countries under its thumb potentially, but domestic and international intervention would make news worldwide.
The Impossible Engine
For now, the manufacturing of said zombie virus remains a virtual impossibility with international and domestic sanctions. However, it’s not to say that terrorist attacks of other, more conventional biological weapons, such as smallpox, anthrax, and botulism, aren’t possible, even in this day and age. Zombie virus as a manufactured biological weapon remains in the realm of science fiction presently. The Walking Dead television series and Resident Evil movie and video game series may instill fear of such corporations, but it’s a mere fantasy in our present reality — an impossible engine.
The Potential Evolution of the Zombie Virus, Part 1: Similar Mechanisms of the Virus in Science Fiction
The zombie virus has been discussed in all sorts of media from movies such as Resident Evil and Dawn of the Dead to the current television series The Walking Dead. For the most part in science fiction, the virus has been manufactured from some evil corporation such Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil, and often, the government agencies, such as Centers for Disease Control, fail to contain the virus once it starts. This is an analysis of the concurrent mechanisms from all the science fiction media.
Zombie Virus is a Virus
The zombie virus has been discussed originally as a virus. This would be true in many circumstances. Bacteria lack the ability to adapt within the human system, and they would fundamentally be attacked by white blood cells and lymphocytes upon detection. Although the person will run a temperature, through antibiotics, eventually it will counteract the bacteria, and the immune system would kickstart to remove the bacteria. Viruses, by their nature, are parasitic. They are encapsulated RNA or DNA that inject the genetic material into cells to replicate within it, eventually overtaking and lysing the cell completely as more viruses spread. However, the shape of viruses isn’t generally agreed upon in science fiction literature.
Zombie Virus Attacks Red Blood Cells
From most of the movies that I’ve seen so far, it has been agreed that the zombie virus attacks red blood cells in living human beings. Generally, the white blood cells and lymphocytes lack the capability of suppressing the virus once bitten by a zombie. Supposedly, the zombie virus would attack the central nervous system (CNS) initially, thereby disabling the body’s defenses.
Zombie Virus Reanimates the Brain Stem or the Brain
The zombie virus affects both the non-living and the living in this manner in generally all science fiction. This generally means it would affect the neural pathways to the central nervous system of the human host, much like rabies. The host would be capable of surviving, but they would more resemble the zombies in The Walking Dead, more than the recent Dawn of the Dead. Neurologically, the human would be physically crippled and mentally disabled (literally), acting more instinctively.
The Host Requires Consumption of Flesh to Survive
This is the most intriguing aspect of the zombie virus. It requires consumption of flesh, generally human, for the host to survive — and the virus ultimately as well. This is also ultimately the point of transmission for the virus into other hosts. The proteins in the consumed flesh would keep the human host alive, but the virus would still ultimately disable the host. The rabies virus has a life span of two days to five years. The human equivalent would and should have a similar life span.