Race to make vaccine for the PLAGUE amid fears terrorists could be turning it into a weapon to wipe out millions
Scientists backed by Department of Defense are developing a plague vaccine
The plague wiped out a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century
Lead researcher Dr Ashok Chorpa warns terrorists could easily do the same now
Dr Chopra warns all three strains could be made antibiotic resistant
The bacteria is easy to grow using a low dose and simple equipment
By MIA DE GRAAF
13 January 2017
Scientists are racing to create a vaccine for the plague – before terrorists develop the deadly disease into a weapon.
The illness is largely seen as a thing of the past, best known for wiping out a third of Europe’s population during the Black Death of the 1300s.
But experts warn it is one of the most likely candidates for a bioweapon – especially given the increasing rate of antibiotic resistance.
Lead researcher Dr Ashok Chopra, whose research is being backed by the Department of Defense, warns the scenario is a more realistic prospect than we think.
‘Terrorists can easily grow the bacteria and make the strains resistant to antibiotics,’ Dr Chopra, a microbiologist and immunologist at the University of Texas microbiologist, told Daily Mail Online.
‘The pneumonic plague is very contagious and very hard to treat. It could kill millions.
‘Think of the Black Death of the 14th century. It is not unrealistic that we would experience the same number of mass casualties. It could be quite devastating.’