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Pandemic series: a significant bioterror attack by 2025?

Bioterrorism is a significant and growing threat: in principle, infection of a single person with the right pathogen could create a devastating wave of sickness and death.

Thus far, the world has been largely spared this horror. The largest attack on US soil to date is apparently a 1984 Oregon attack on salad bars(!) carried out by a religious group.

Internationally, the Aum Shirinkyo cult made multiple attempts at biological attacks, including unsuccessful anthrax attacks. (It was more tragically successful using Sarin gas, which killed 12 in the 1994 subway attacks.)

These efforts at bioterrorism were largely failures; however, that does not mean future attacks will not succeed. So here we ask:

By 2025 will a bioterror attack occur in which more than 1000 total worldwide cases or 100 worldwide fatalities are reported?

Here we consider only attacks in which a pathogen infects humans (rather than including toxins even if they are biologically generated such as for botulism), and we consider numbers from the WHO, CDC, or other government source.


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