…the world must prevail on countries like Canada, China, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom, which are suspected of having biological weapons programmes, to give them up for destruction. Otherwise, the virus humans culture, can turn around to be our masters.


Humanity, despite its giant strides in knowledge, and over the planets, lies prostrate before an almost invisible enemy, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The nuclear weapons, stealth jets, sophisticated weaponry and armies of the human race are no match for a virus that is not as big as a spec that the human eyes can see or detect.

We think we are big and that God has given us dominion over all living and non-living things, yet a microscopic organism is chasing us from our cherished streets in our tens of millions and forcing governments that lay claim to strong democratic credentials and traditions, to adopt extra-ordinary dictatorial measures, such as locking down towns and cities, malls and transport systems and suspending the right of free movement. The tiny organism is making hospitals in many countries overflow, mortuaries full and fresh graves dug at extraordinary speed. It is crashing oil prices and stock exchanges, and pushing centuries of relationships like that between Europe and United States (U.S.) to breaking points, while seeing to the proclamation of full travel bans between them. The tiny creature has emptied the usually packed football stadia of their fanatical fans and brought airlines crashing; not from the air, but right there on the tarmac.

The tiny infectious agent, which is spontaneously and actively waging war in 146 countries, has sent over 8,000 to early graves and infected at least 200,000 persons. The infected include the Iranian vice president, Massoumeh Ebtekar and deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi; Australian home affairs minister, Peter Dutton; United Kingdom’s health minister, Nadine Dorries; French culture minister, Frank Riester; Brazilian foreign trade secretary, Marcos Troyjo; and Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Spain perhaps has the most infected government in the world; the victims include, its deputy prime minister, Pablo Iglesias; Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife, Begona Gomez; the country’s minister, Irene Montero; its Catalonia Region leader, Quim Torra; and his deputy, Pere Aragones. Also those who have fallen victim to the infection are popular Hollywood couple, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson; British actor and musician, Idris Elba; and famous Chilean writer, Luis Sepulveda. In sports, Arsenal team manager, Mikel Arteta; Chelsea winger, Callum Hudson-Odoi; and Italy-based Argentinian footballer, Paulo Dybala have tested positive to the virus. Also positive to the coronavirus are American NBA basketball stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has a simple message to the world: “All countries should be able to test all suspected cases. They cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded.”

Survival is the first law of nature. Just six weeks ago, universal focus was on refugees from underdeveloped countries trying to force their way into Europe, especially through the Turkish-Greek border. It would have been unthinkable that just four weeks later, Europeans, especially Italians visiting Africa, would refuse to return home after the expiration of their visas! Technically, they are seeking refuge on the continent.

Any leader or country that thinks biological warfare (BW), also known as germ warfare, is viable in a highly globalised world, will be mistaken. Any nation that thinks it can unleash toxins, bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi on its enemy, and be immune, is mistaken.


But Africa should not shout Eureka because the virus is a dirty fighter, obeying no rules. China was the epicentre of the virus a few weeks ago, now it is Europe, with Italy recording 475 deaths in one day. Both parts of the world, in comparison to Africa, have advanced health systems. The lessons from the devastation in China and Europe is that Africa must prepare for the worst; while a step like the washing of hands regularly with soap can be quite simple in many parts of the world, it might not be so in Africa, where many parts lack running water.

But it is all humans that must learn lessons, including the American president, Donald Trump, who rather than lead the charge against the coronavirus, sought to play politics with what he derisively called the “Chinese Virus.” The most important lesson is that the world is truly a global village and what we must do is try all that is humanly possible to prevent a reoccurrence of a virus attack that has the potential of wiping out large sections of humanity or even threatening the human race with extinction. That is why to me, beyond containing, and possibly defeating COVID-19, humanity, irrespective of the origins of the virus, must destroy all its stockpile of biological weapons, because any outbreak will spread beyond the intended borders.

Any leader or country that thinks biological warfare (BW), also known as germ warfare, is viable in a highly globalised world, will be mistaken. Any nation that thinks it can unleash toxins, bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi on its enemy, and be immune, is mistaken.

Biological warfare is not new to the world. In the Middle Ages, victims of the bubonic plague were thrown into castles to spread what White Europe called the Black Death. In the fourteenth Century, over 50 million died in Europe from the plague.

The Europeans who arrived in America met Indian indigenes who, in 1492, had a population of 112 million. The migrants employed small pox as a biological weapon against the unsuspecting Indians, who did not realise that the blankets and linens the migrants were giving them had been deliberately infected with smallpox virus. That way, 90 per cent of the indigenous Indian population, was wiped out. The three main persons who in 1763 deliberately infected the Indians with small pox were Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America; his Philadelphia Commander, Col. Henry Bouquet and a trader, William Trent.

In April 1789, British immigrants in Australia used the same smallpox epidemic to wipe out 90 per cent of the indigenous Aborigines.

In the 20th Century alone, over 500 million people were killed in biological warfare. The biological weapon of choice today is anthrax; who knows if COVID-19 was not also cultured in a laboratory and released amongst the Chinese?


In the Second World War, the Japanese army Unit 731 led by Lt. General Shirō Ishii “used plague-infected fleas and flies covered with cholera to infect the population in China.” In August 2002, the Japanese District Court presided over by Justice Koji Iwata, ruled that: “The evidence shows that the Japanese troops, including Unit 731, used bacteriological weapons under the order of the Imperial Japanese Army’s headquarters and that many local residents died.” North Korea has also advanced evidence that America used biological warfare against it during the Korean War.

In the Vietnam War, America used the bio-chemical weapon, Agent Orange, which could cause diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. The Vietnamese government said over three million people suffered from illnesses as a result of Agent Orange.

In the 20th Century alone, over 500 million people were killed in biological warfare. The biological weapon of choice today is anthrax; who knows if COVID-19 was not also cultured in a laboratory and released amongst the Chinese?

My submission is that the world must prevail on countries like Canada, China, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom, which are suspected of having biological weapons programmes, to give them up for destruction. Otherwise, the virus humans culture, can turn around to be our masters.

Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of African workers, is a human rights activist, journalist and author.