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More on the Risk of Another Bio Attack, Killing Thousands to Millions: Not If, But When

Updated: Jun 20

More on the Risk of Another Bio Attack, Killing Thousands to Millions: Not If, But When

By Dr. John Norris


Dr. John Norris is a former FDA COO and Harvard faculty member who is an expert in risk managing the “spread” of bio attacks. He has written over 120 articles and posts on this topic's different aspects and perspectives.


Those papers include analyses of various types of bio-attack risk “quantifications” (expectations, not predictions) and “likely impacts” if the risks materialize. Many possible methods for “distribution” and facilitating the “growth” and the “spread” of the pathogens (ways and means) have been withheld for national security and national defense reasons.


The papers have also identified the essential components of “preparation” for different types of enterprises and nations. They emphasize that critical preparedness is vital (1) to respond quickly and effectively and (2) to prevent, mitigate, and control the spread of a pathogen or pathogens, just like you would do in the case of a fire. The risk management of pathogen spread involves more complexity and far more advanced strategies, programs, systems, tools, and other “spread” risk-management mechanisms.


So, in a world where technological advancements have given rise to unprecedented possibilities, there exists a grim reality that often goes overlooked and underestimated – the risk of a bio attack. While it may seem like the stuff of Hollywood movies, the threat of a devastating biological attack lurks in the shadows, ready to strike at any moment. This article delves deeper into this ominous threat, shedding light on the potential consequences and urging business owners and healthcare executives to take proactive measures to protect their workforce and mitigate the impact of infectious diseases on their operations.


The Harsh Reality

The risks associated with a bio attack cannot be brushed aside as mere pessimism or fear-mongering. History has shown us instances of deliberate biological weapon development and the devastating aftermath that follows. The anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001 serve as a chilling reminder of the real-world consequences of such acts. With advancements in biotechnology, the capabilities of potential bio attackers have only grown more formidable, making it imperative for us to prepare for the worst.


Our view: “It is not if, but when, a targeted bio attack, by a hostile nation, such as Iran, by a terrorist group such as Hamas, or viable significant threat of an attack of one scale or another, is coming against the US, Israel, or one of our allies.” Why?


The reasons:


  1. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of significant Hamas and Iranian agents now in the US. We only know where some of them are. The rest have vanished into the dense fabric of our society.

  2. There are many reasons why a bio attack is now the best (from many perspectives) means for a terrorist group or hostile nation-state to conduct mass warfare. Why?

  3. For example, bio attacks (1) are less detectable as to their source, (2) can be triggered to “explode” months after deposit, (3) can be distributed in hyper-small quantities to vast numbers of locations by human “safe depositors” or “kamikaze carriers,” including long-imbedded employees, repair persons, or delivery persons, and (4) can, once they “explode,” grow enormously (arithmetically, not exponentially, but very quickly and broadly in our society where everyone travels somewhere, near or far, almost every day). Most important is that pathogenic attacks grow entirely independently without further interventions. On the other hand, additional nuclear or chemical attacks make their initial attack more detectable. Accordingly, a possible immediate and massive response by the US or our allies to the bio attack is far less of a “deterrent” than it is for other weapons of mass destruction: nuclear (uncontrollable and immensely traceable) and chemical (such as very local wind-blown mustard gas, uncontrollable and tiny per attack).


Understanding the Probability and the Potential Impact


The impact of a bio attack is not limited to the immediate casualties caused by the release of a deadly pathogen. The aftermath extends far beyond the physical toll, affecting social structures, economies, and even national security. The disruption to essential services, panic among the population, and strains on healthcare systems can lead to widespread chaos and loss of public trust. Moreover, bio attacks have the potential to target critical infrastructure, interrupting supply chains and compromising national defense capabilities.


Setting Reasonable Annual Risk "Expectations", Not "Predictions"


We have set these 33% per year (terrorist or hostile nation manufactured) and 10% per

year (nature-made) bio-attack risk expectations (not predictions) based on our own

experience and the experience of others.

In full disclosure:


  1. In creating a new worldwide market for a first-of-its-kind highly automated surgery device, Dr. Norris and his then team were right about the timing of the significant need by users for very advanced technology and its acceptability to surgeons and nurses. Accordingly, that start-up hit a $2B home run, in today’s dollars.

  2. For S2P, we are strongly involved in creating a worldwide market for a very advanced bio-spread risk management platform product, VirusVigilant. We believe we are “spot-on” regarding the right technology, the need for that technology, and its acceptability to leaders at the local, regional, national, and international levels of society.

  3. In the areas of “TV communications for clinical care” and “medical knowledge processing for clinical decision-making,” our timing was too early, technologically, and in terms of physician and nurse acceptability.


We feel comfortable with our expectations regarding S2P. But not everyone agrees.


Our expectations could turn out to be right—or wrong because they suggested the

attack would occur earlier than it turned out to be or later than it was. We might also be

wrong as to the number of people who it will save. It is difficult to prove a negative: “a

person who should have died but didn’t. You must rely mostly on assumptions that

readily can be challenged. But thoughtful, unbiased assumptions and “horse sense”

generally get you to at or near the right conclusion.


The only thing we feel 99% sure of is that the bio attack, the significant viable threat of a

bio attack, or the next worldwide pandemic, regional endemic, or significant local

outbreak will occur in our lifetimes. About those expectations, we feel no doubt. This is

not a matter of if, but when. So, no matter your calculations, we believe the time to act is

now.


Our expectations are shared with you because they represent the plus or minus range

for harm and for calculating the earlier date for preemptive actions we would, and

should, take to prevent, mitigate, or control it.


If you would not play Russian Roulette with a ten-chamber revolver having a bullet in

one of those chambers, the lowest expectation, the nature-made expectation, then, in

any event, you should make significant improvements immediately. If indeed, you would

take that 10% level of risk for a nature-made attack, you are then welcome to face the

three-chamber expectation revolver of a human-manufactured attack if you like. In both

situations, you can reject the level of expectations or decide to take the risk. It is your

decision. You get the point.


The Expected Consequences of Being Unprepared


Based on the “S2P Market Survey” results, American businesses and government agencies must be far more prepared. If they aren't, the damage to workers, their families, companies, and their investors, from shareholders to banks to insurers (as well as to the economy), will again be catastrophic. Isn’t this at least one lesson we learned from the COVID-19 attack?

What are the specific expected negative consequences?


A.    Use of a Disabling Pathogen


Suppose the pathogen used is disabling but not deadly to workers and their families, businesses, agencies, and nations (a possible strategy that could be used “as a warning to America to back off.” COVID-19 was such a pathogen. The vast majority of the 1.2 million Americans who were killed were above working age). In that case, these enterprises will likely suffer the following consequences according to Safely2Prosperity’s recent “Market Survey.” The Survey consisted of over 50 enterprise executives and was conducted by S2P with the help of an outside marketing firm, Accelerate8Now:


  • 87% of organizations were impacted negatively and significantly by COVID-19. Yes, 87%. Not 10%. We believe few CEOs and COOs have educated themselves on this fact. We have not yet studied the number of businesses headquartered in allied nations that were negatively and significantly impacted. Still, from our general experience, we have confidence that the number will be within the same ballpark.

  • 57% had suspended operations, averaging 25 weeks. This alone cost them (and the economy) trillions of dollars, and thousands of companies and jobs were significantly and irrecoverably damaged or destroyed. Think about this: 57%. And 25 weeks is over a half-year—primarily due to their “unpreparedness” and that of their nation. What incompetence and recklessness.

  • Although there was a long-term shift towards hybrid and remote operations during that half-year and afterward, 35% of organizations have returned to in-person workplace attendance, putting their employees, families, and investors at greater risk if they are “running bare.” Most of these are businesses, such as manufacturers, distributors, and warehousers, and, of course, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and government agencies, including top-secret government agencies, that need employees on-site to conduct and succeed with their business. These enterprises must especially be heavily protecting themselves. But, exceptionally recklessly, most aren’t. Companies are paying $60,000 for front-row seats for their executives at tonight’s Celtics game. But some of the same companies refuse to pay 60 cents per employee per month to help protect their employees (and derivatively, their families, investors, bankers, insurers, customers, suppliers, and many others in the supply chain) from infectious disease spread harm. Where are our corporate values today? What are the values and priorities of our leaders, including those who have power over making businesses “do the right thing,” including our government agency, foundation, investor, and union leaders? This is unbelievable. Soon, plaintiffs attorneys will begin to clean up the avoidable mess far more aggressively. But is making CEOs and COOs pay millions out of their pockets for recklessness after significant numbers of their constituents are viciously harmed. Yes, possibly out of their own pockets. Is this the way we want to run our nation and society? Let’s wake up, leaders, before it’s too late.

  • The top three business impacts were (1) suspended operations, (2) supply chain disruptions, and (3) significant revenue and profit declines, mostly temporary but in some cases permanent. Again, what an avoidable mess. And some companies and leaders are now inappropriately attempting to take credit for saving lives. Only pharmaceutical and medical device companies and scientists at a few government agencies, such as the FDA, where Dr. Norris is a former COO, CDC, and NIH, should be taking a bow. Perhaps as many as 40% of the people who died did so avoidably. Other companies and agencies, scientists, foundations, and unions failed. It was as if nobody cared. It was mostly “disposable old people” who died. They forgot that most elderly are grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles of workers or family members. Therefore, in many cases, employee productivity was devastated by these deaths. We have called for fully funded academic studies to determine the number of avoidable deaths more precisely—and how we can avoid those blunders in the future. Without brilliant scientists at all three of these types of enterprises, we acknowledge on behalf of the nation and the world, the avoidable deaths would have been much higher, whatever the base number is. We and the nation thank you for your extraordinary service to the country and all humankind.

  • Less than one-third of organizations have a minimal, reasonable solution today. Recklessly, the rest are “going bare” for now. Reasonable bio attack solutions are “assurance,” not “insurance.” But they cost as low as 1,000th the cost of health insurance. Yes, 1,000th. No enterprise or leader would go without health insurance for even a moment. And no company looking for supplies would rely on them as a supplier if they did. That will become a huge marketing and sales disadvantage. Let’s see—if even a minor attack or threat occurs worldwide. Once “Pandora’s Box” is opened, look out. Only hope will be left inside. And “hope” will not be enough without critical strategies, programs, systems, tools, and other spread risk-management mechanisms in place, even if not fully operational. Companies and agencies not ready to respond quickly will be at the end of very long lines to gain access to most, if not all, risk-management mechanisms.

  • One in 10 enterprises believes infectious disease spread is a high risk to repeat soon. But even that 10% is slow to put the contagious disease spread vector at the top of their radar. This is regrettable. Yes. Regrettable. For now. S2P’s job is to educate leaders and change reckless behavior due to misperception. And adopt the values and execution that go with proper perception. Since COVID-19 has significantly damaged them, it will probably take less than an international pandemic to trigger action for visionary CEOs and COIs. Or even a regional endemic. A local outbreak or viable threat of one will probably be enough to provoke appropriate action on their part. We will see. And we will see who at least is at the head of the line to adapt quickly.

  • While 40% of organizations acknowledge a high to moderate risk of danger, it's essential to understand that company policy decisions made by leaders, including boards, and or industry/government mandates will be the critical drivers (other than a new outbreak, large or small, or credible threat of such an outbreak) for an enterprise purchasing even a very low-cost preparedness solution and installing and making the solution fully operational. To avoid social or legal recklessness charges, some organizations' wise department leaders might be willing to purchase a “preparedness” license using departmental funds without a threat or a mandate. We will see.

  • 1/3rd of organizations experienced employee layoffs and significantly reduced employee and spouse morale impacts. Yes, 33 and 1/3 percent. The safety and financial morale of spouses was probably hurt more. Studies have determined that spouse morale is even more important to employees than their own safety and financial morale. Especially if they are highly ranked in their field; if a spouse says so, an employee will begin a job search on the push of a spouse.

  • 10% of enterprises implemented a solution for immediate competitive advantage reasons. Thankfully, some enterprises implemented some form of solution. Mostly, they said it was because they wanted to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Competitive advantage strategies have three legs. First, high-morale workers (those with high-morale spouses) are more productive and produce more revenue and profits. Second, companies at high risk of being unable to supply customer-needed components on time and within quality specifications will lose customers or fail to win more. No company will rely on a company lacking employee health insurance—and eventually, bio attack spread risk management assurance—as a supplier. Third, companies at high risk of being unable to protect employees adequately (and, therefore, spouses) will lose top employees or fail to win more. In marketing and sales, performing well on all three legs is critical to creating competitive advantage and success. Even pre-attack, those who protect their employees and families will win. Those that don’t will lose. After a significant viable threat or attack, we believe this number will exceed 90%.

  • Twelve industries were surveyed. The two most harmed industries—healthcare and education—represented 60% of the survey participants. Many of the remaining 40% also represented other currently high-risk industries. All industries will be at high risk when there is a viable threat of a bio attack of any scale or an actual attack.


B.     Use of a More Dangerous Pathogen


If, instead, a more dangerous (very deadly, highly contagious, and a higher concentration in the form of the number of pathogens per square feet in a closed-in facility) pathogen and attack is used:


  • Deaths to employees and their family members (including children) could be in the thousands and even millions, regionally, nationally, and or internationally, depending on how strategic, broad, and potent the attack is. All constituents will be immensely harmed if a solution is not in place and active at an enterprise.

  • Other serious harms to workers could be vast and debilitating mentally, psychologically, and financially, either directly on account of their fear or because of the deaths or other significant harms threatened to or experienced by their family members or co-workers. Accordingly, if these direct or indirect harms were immense, employee work attendance and productivity could fall precipitously.


In other words, the consequences to all constituents from a credible threat or an attack will be dire under any circumstances. Among others, companies (including their CEOs and COOs), investors, employees, and family members will be devastated.


The Role of Healthcare Executives and Business Executives


As guardians of the well-being of their workforce and the sustainability of their operations, healthcare executives and business owners must take a proactive approach to mitigate the risks posed by bio attacks. Preparedness is key to minimizing the impact and ensuring a swift recovery in the face of such a crisis. Here are some crucial steps that can be taken:


  1. Risk Assessment and Planning: Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and formulate a robust crisis management plan. This should involve collaboration with relevant authorities, experts in biosecurity, and law enforcement agencies.

  2. Enhanced Security Measures: Strengthen physical security measures to safeguard sensitive areas, laboratories, and storage facilities. Implement access controls, video surveillance systems, and other security protocols to prevent unauthorized access to potentially dangerous materials and data.

  3. Employee Training and Awareness: Educate employees about the risks of bio attacks and provide training on recognizing and responding to suspicious activities or behavior. Promote a culture of vigilance and empower employees to report any concerns promptly.

  4. Business Continuity Planning: Develop comprehensive business continuity plans that outline alternate operating procedures, communication strategies, and supply chain contingencies in the event of a bio attack. Regularly review and update these plans to ensure their effectiveness.

  5. Collaborative Partnerships: Foster partnerships with local and national authorities, healthcare organizations, and industry peers to share information, resources, and best practices. Together, we can enhance preparedness and response capabilities.


Being Prepared is Not Just a Nice Thing to Do. Keep an Eye on the Ball


We cannot make “predictions” about the annual risks of bio attacks by nature, terrorist

groups, hostile nations, or their viable threats. There is insufficient US and global

experience with these to make predictions. We can only cite our carefully weighted

“expectations.” We will have more data once the bio attack Pandora’s Box opens

anywhere in the world.


The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus,

predicted in his recent speech in Davos that one of the subsequent pandemics would be

five times more dangerous (i.e., an attack by a pathogen that is more deadly, more

contagious, and more concentrated regionally or indoors) than the COVID-19

Pandemic.


When it comes to human-manufactured attacks, the reality is stark: the world is in a

state of profound instability, a fact we cannot ignore. Given the status of the world,

cornered terrorists or hostile nations are likely to go to the “third rail” of mass destruction

using stealth if they can get away with it: a bio attack or a viable threat thereof. It’s a

different world we live in now. Everyone knows this. But almost everyone wants to deny

it.


In the case of natural-made attacks, we rely on the explosive Davos statements of the

WHO Director-General. Since we expect an annual 10%, not 33%, risk of a nature-

made attack, we are concerned but less concerned about this eventuality. Unlike many,

we put human-manufactured attacks or viable threats at the top of the heap.


Why Do We Come Down Hard on Leaders?


We come down hard on leaders because their lack of preparedness (even rough

preparedness) to protect their employees, families, and investors/taxpayers from

avoidable injury during the COVID-19 Pandemic was “reckless.” They are in the best

position to help us save up to a million lives, which we hope to save by the end of this

decade. But our leaders failed to support these efforts earlier, and most are failing to do

so now.


As we have mentioned often, possibly as many as 40% of the people who died from

COVID-19 might have been saved. Yet, we have seen no fully funded academic study

to set this number better and recommend improvements. Where is the federal and state

funding? The foundation funding?


Our advocacy group stands as a beacon of hope, the sole voice in the world,

championing the need for authoritative answers to these two critical questions that

affect all of humanity: What were the disastrous fumbles? And how can we carry the ball

better from now on?


The bottom line: We are pushing for improved sets of leader values, immediate and

aggressive actions based on these upgraded values, and strong and relentless

pressure from their regulators and/or influencers to implement those values soon.


To dig deeper here, in our next Article, we will explore the critical question: “When It

Comes to Bio Attack Risks, Are Internal and External Politics Being Placed Above

Corporate Security, National Security, and National Defense Worldwide?”


Conclusion


The risk of a bio attack is a real and present danger that demands our attention. As healthcare executives and business owners, we have a responsibility to protect our workforce, communities, and the resilience of our operations. By conducting rigorous risk assessments, implementing robust security measures, and fostering a culture of preparedness, we can fortify ourselves against this insidious threat. Let us not wait for the unimaginable to happen. Instead, let us be proactive, prioritizing the safety and security of those who depend on us. Remember, when it comes to bio attacks, it's not a matter of if, but when.


So, what do we conclude? Business CEOs and COOs, government agency heads, and nation leaders must beware. It would be “reckless” (a moral, ethical, and legal term) not to prepare your enterprise now. Unprepared leaders this next time will not be given the benefit of the doubt for “being caught with your pants down.” Forgiveness is not forever.


Getting a solution purchased, installed, and fully operational following a viable threat of an attack or an actual attack, no matter how small, will be difficult. Many other buyers will be ahead of you in line. You are on notice and forewarned. Start now. Preparedness is required. Protect your company and its employees, families, investors, lenders, insurers, customers, suppliers, and others—and yourself. Your revenue, profit, bonus, job, and fulfillment of your moral, ethical, and legal duties depend on your doing so now.


Beyond your immediate duties. Be patriotic for the benefit of “one and all.” Being unprepared (because infectious diseases spread from house to house, building to building, and nation to nation) will be catastrophic within your company’s headquarters and many locations, your neighbors’ locations, your country, and our allied nations.


Let’s stop the spread before it gets out of hand and goes too far. After years of employee deaths from workplace and home fires, you are prepared to dampen fire spread. Don’t take years to get aboard the train to dampen deadly bio spread within your workspaces and homes. If you do, it’s the biggest mistake you will ever make as a leader.


A Public Service Announcement by Safely2Prosperity and Its Executive Chairman, Dr. John Norris


 We are pleased to cover this well-hidden story as a public service for the sake of our readers and all the people of the US and the world. Our goal is to have informed, educated, and committed leaders in the US and worldwide at all levels of society. We hope they buy our solution because it is the best. But if not, they must purchase “a” solution. Three alternative solutions are almost as good as S2P’s VirusVigilant. 


Safely2Prosperity (S2P) provides a "comprehensive infectious-disease spread risk-management solution," VirusVigilant, for business executives, government-agency heads, and nation leaders to protect their employees, families, investors, and others. S2P's VirusVigilant "Infectious Disease Safety Program" (like a Fire Safety Program but much more sophisticated and complex) combines a SaaS platform with customized risk management tools for overseeing add-on packages of vaccinations, testing, therapeutics, and tracking technologies, among many others. These tools help these leaders meet their moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities while protecting and enhancing workforce (and family) safety and productivity. 


Thereby, VirusVigilant helps assure (it's not "insurance," but "assurance," for leaders, so "they can sleep at night," at 1,000 times less the cost) (1) business continuity, (2) revenue, (3) profits, (4) investor and insurer financial protection, and (5) the overall effectiveness and survival of the enterprise. With a focus on proactive measures, S2P offers a cost-effective, low-cost (as low as pennies per employee per month), intuitive solution for risk-managing infectious disease spread. "It's the spread that kills millions." 


Dr. John Norris is a former FDA COO and Harvard faculty member recognized as an expert in preventing, mitigating, controlling, and otherwise risk-managing the "spread" of infectious diseases. He has often published on this or related topics, including as editor-in-chief of two academic publications, one at Harvard (which he founded some 50 years ago) and the other at Cornell. And gave many presentations on the need for change in health and healthcare systems, including 300 presentations worldwide. Also, he helped reform the "regulatory procedures" used by the Joint Commission (which "regulates" hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes) and the US FDA (which regulates drug and medical device developers). Finally, he is a highly successful businessperson and entrepreneur. He and his former teammates sold one of their last start-ups for almost $2B in today’s dollars. 


As historically-world-renowned diplomat Benjamin Franklin said as he signed the US Declaration of Independence from England (the first, most costly, and most dangerous step in forming the United States as a country, but a critical step): “Gentlemen [and Ladies], we must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” 


Thoughtful and aggressive “preparedness” is the first and most essential step in protecting our people and those of our allies from the devastation of a bio attack by a terrorist group, such as Hamas, or a hostile nation, such as Iran. It costs as little as 50 cents per employee per month (1,000th the cost of health insurance) to be prepared. 


If you want to learn more about VirusVigilant, please get in touch with Dr. John Norris by text at 617-680-3127 or by email at John.Norris@Safely2Prosperity.com (mailto: John.Norris@Safely2Prosperity.com). S2P's website is safely2prosperity.com (http://safely2prosperity.com/).





© 2024 Safely2Prosperity LLC and Dr. John Norris, Executive Chairman. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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