Infectious diseases and developments in national security threats



Coronavirus is a member of a large family of viruses that can cause a variety of illnesses, from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as: "Middle East Respiratory Syndrome" or "MERS" and "Acute Respiratory Syndrome" or "SARS". The emerging coronavirus (Covid-19), is a new type of family that has not been identified before. The new virus, which has infected tens of thousands of people in China's Wuhan province and around the world over the past two months has caused acute respiratory problems with its daily expansion, there is a concern that it will become a global epidemic.

In the early stages, the virus only existed in China, but within a few weeks it spread to at least 35 other countries, including Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. At the same time, medical laboratories in the world are trying in addition to producing more "diagnostic kits" to identify patients on time and to increase their knowledge of effective vaccines to prevent corona disease. However, many political and security decision-makers around the world believes that these actions were not enough and they want the disease caused by the coronavirus and other dangerous pandemic diseases are considered as a threat to "national security." According to this evolution, this article seeks to look at the disease condition caused by a coronavirus in Iran and the world and its consequences, especially in terms of health, social and economic, the overall impact of the spread of the virus and epidemics on national security. In this article, have also tried to draw the readers' attention to the reality of evolution in the concept of threats to national security in today's world.

1.pandemic diseases as a threat to national security


Due to the current developments in the field of health in many countries, it is an undeniable fact that in today's world, maintaining national security is not limited to protecting one country against the hostile actions of another country or non-governmental actors.

It can be said with confidence the time of it has passed, that the factors threaten of national security in the minds of decision makers and policymakers, as well as military commanders and heads of security agencies, are limited to equipping or using military hardware or resorting to terrorist operations by hostile armies or guerrilla armed groups. Although the danger of wars, especially nuclear wars threatens world security and there are still groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that have the potential to carry out attacks such as the September 11. At present, what will threaten the lives of citizens and of course national security, more than any of these factors, in the coming years will have a new and may be unknown form. Nowadays, the protection of the national security of any country, as well as global security, in addition to protecting against man-made threats, depending on minimizing the environmental impact of destructive human activities after the Industrial Revolution, Including excessive consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation and pollution of the ecosystem due to the import of toxic chemicals and plastics and of course, dealing effective with new epidemics that are able to threaten the lives of citizens, the national economy, and many other aspects of people's daily lives. Based on joint assessments of National Intelligence Management Organization and U.S. army about the threat posed by the spread of dangerous contagious diseases that were conducted in 2009 and 2016, in case of recurrence of the disease, there will double casualties.

 During the past thirteen years, world has witnessed a number of outbreaks of pandemics, including SARS, influenza virus, H1N1, Mers, Ebola and Zika viruses all of which have been indicative serious risks to health security of countries around the world. Nevertheless, when public health experiences such crises, the necessary budget to fight them is allocated in a discontinued and scattered manner and its sums are beyond what was previously needed to prevent or prepare for a crisis; for example, in response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the US Congress allocated 4/5 billion dollars to build public health capacity and treatment that $ 1.1 billion was spent in the country.

In the description, the history of the spread of contagious diseases It should be said that in 1918 and in the last year of World War I, the global outbreak of the Spanish flu has affected 500 million people in the worldwide (one-third of the world's population at that time) and caused the death of twenty to fifty million people. A history of security attitudes toward epidemic diseases in the last years of the twentieth century can be seen, at least in the early 1990s and during the geopolitical changes in the world after the Cold War; When federal agencies in charge of health in the United States published an important report entitled "Expandable Infectious Diseases: Microbial Threats to Public Health in the United States" and they warned that a number of epidemics were spreading in other parts of the world at that time, could pose potential threats to the United States  because of interdependence and global communication, as well as changes in social and cultural patterns.

According to the report, this was a lesson that the United States and any other country should have learned from the emergence and rapid spread and epidemic viruses of Immune system defect (HIV), which caused AIDS. In the late 1990s, such concerns increased that the US government, in an unprecedented move, formally considered epidemics as a threat to its national security. In the 21st century, the Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2015 in Africa, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone causes infection 28 thousand people and death more than eleven thousand people. With the end of the Ebola outbreak, the three West African countries also lost about $ 2.8 billion of their GDP. This statistic shows that the epidemic diseases is still a big problem in today's world. In recent years, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ebola and measles respectively have killed 2236 people and 6,000 people. Although in the 21st century we are witness significant progress in medical science, Pandemics diseases, especially human influenza pandemic is still one of the nightmares of the health authorities around the world. In the last century, three such outbreaks of human influenza occurred in 1918, 1957, and 1968, especially in the first case, it led to the deaths of tens of millions of people around the world, including in Iran. Prior to the outbreak of the new corona, World Health Organization officials and many governments still feared that the H5N1 virus bird flu could cause a new epidemic, therefore, influenza was also among the factors threats to national security. Meanwhile, Senator Richard Lugar and Barack Obama (before he was elected President of the United States) published an article in the New York Times in 2005 and they warned that although in America people's minds threats to national security, is limited to the spread of nuclear weapons, rebellious states and global terrorism, another type of threat lurks the United States, the threat, which is not from humans, but from nature, and it is bird flu pandemic, that causes the death of millions, to destabilize governments and endanger the security of countries around the world.

 A scenario that political and health officials have been concerned about in recent years, was transmission of the H5N1 virus through the consumption of meat of some animals to humans, then through changes in cell composition and genetic mutation, and then the ability to transmit the virus effectively from human to human. They rightly predicted that if the epidemic spread, such a virus is likely to be transmitted quickly through coughing and sneezing and people will get it before they know it. In September 2008, according to the World Health Organization, 387 confirmed cases of avian flu were recorded in the world that 245 of them resulted in the death of patients.


2.The necessity of change the security perspective on environmental issues


Ease of travel in today's world means that the international community always must be prepared to deal with the outbreak of epidemics. Now it is clear to everyone that despite the progress achieved in medicine and public health, the occurrence of epidemics is not in question, but the subject is only time and how to spread it. Today, millions of passengers travel around the world every day by flying 100,000 planes between different cities and continents, and the borders between countries and continents are not really able to prevent the spread of epidemics; that is why governments, national public health institutions, research institutes, communities, the private sector, and global health activists should take actions and with immediate measures prevents the spread of diseases such as corona in the world.

According to many experts, it would not be achievable, unless all of these institutions strive to increase the level of people's awareness, not only the nature of epidemics disease, but also all the other environmental problems that are causing the disease today, try to create and improve the necessary health infrastructure, as well as train specialized staff to prevent and deal with crisis situations. In the meantime, it can be said that the share and responsibility of governments in what has happened and what should not happen in the future is twofold, because it is the governments that need to understand the change in their security approach to environmental issues and an important issue of environmental protection, in other words, take over all the components and parts of the ecosystem that they control.


3.The importance of attention to biological security


The concept of biological security in the general context of national security is a new issue and has been interpreted differently, as a result of such interpretations and definitions in different countries, perceptions of biological security are also open or limited. While the term environmental and workplace safety has been fully understood, in general, perhaps its important aspects for national security have been neglected. However, many countries, as well as various international institutions, they started implementing biological safety measures and biological security. In the limited type, biological safety measures are limited to executive and general measures that are implemented only at the level of equipment or sensitive laboratories. In more pervasive type, the biological security system includes elements of preventive security measures, monitoring of diseases, achieving therapeutic and health readiness, showing the necessary response in the event of a biological immunodeficiency or biological safety disorder.

According to some experts, in some cases, the definition of the term "biological security" includes a set of predicted measures to prevent microbial attacks or what terrorist groups and non-governmental actors call "microbial terrorism." The prevalence of coronavirus disease in Iran has shown that our country lacks the necessary preparedness and efficiency to deal with such attacks, although this weakness is also seen in many countries involved in coronavirus infection.

Aside from the possibility of microbial and biological attacks, the issue of maintaining safety in equipment and sensitive laboratories is also very important in maintaining public health. The term biological security is closely related to the term "biological safety" for example, in the guidelines published by the World Health Organization state that "Laboratory biological safety means the principles, technologies, and necessary procedures to prevent unwanted exposure to pathogens and toxins, and to prevent accidental release of such substances and agents"

From the perspective of the experts, biological safety is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of biological security. The term biological security has different meanings for experts and specialists in human health and the environment; For example, in the field of agriculture in general "biological security" defined as the protection of plants against all kinds of pests and invasive creatures. Under the Convention on the Prohibition of Microbial and Chemical Weapons, the term specifically includes the protection of security and the monitoring of pathogenic and toxic biological agents. Also, due to the close relationship between chemistry and biology, this term can be considered as any chemical that is considered biologically active. (Such as: biochemicals) Finally, aside from the measures taken to enforce the terms and concepts, these do not conflict with each other their implementation is important for two basic reasons: First, to ensure the health and safety of humans, animals, plants, and in general, the environment, and second, to prevent the misuse of microbial biology.

Officials, Political, economic and military decision-makers in every country should know they that by ignoring this fact and adopting immature and in some cases incorrect policies, they are gradually destroying their living environment, and they are creating the conditions for the disappearance of their country from the map of geographical borders; therefore, more than ever, it is necessary for the authorities to change, extensive and update their views on the issue of "national security" and the security view of the "environment" and their protection.

In the case of Iran, new threats to the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, more than that having an external source and hardware, within the country and most of all, result from improper use of natural resources and irreparable damage to the environment. If this view and approach does not change quickly and is not replaced by scientific compensatory policies, we will see more damage, which has far worse security, political, economic and social consequences.


4. Conclusion


Traditional approaches to security, and plans and programs based on these perspectives, mainly have focused on physical protection against external threats. In this regard, we have witnessed many issues such as maintaining human health standards and protecting the environment, including rivers and lakes, forests and habitats, wildlife and weather, neglected and have not been given priority compared to other issues and cases in the country. Now, over time, it has become clear to everyone, that the real and effective preservation of the environment and public health of each country with the most accurate, most scientific, most compassionate measures and away from any political orientation, is one of the most important and perhaps the main pillars in maintaining the national security of that country in today's world.

The Coronavirus epidemic was an alarm bell for our country's decision-makers and policy makers, however, they have the ability, by carefully calculating the balance of military forces in the region, and launch a unique, accurate, and striking attack on one of the most important US military bases in its neighborhood using ballistic missiles, however, they have not yet prepared to face the serious environmental situation in the country, including taking preventive measures and preparing for epidemics against diseases caused by viruses such as corona. However due to the potential available talents in the country, by focusing on this issue as one of Iran's main priorities, this will also be available and under control.

In the end, if decision makers and political leaders around the world, unable to change their security approach to environmental issues and understand its impact on national security and take urgent and effective measures to prevent the spread of environmental damage, which has resulted in climate change and global warming, in the near future they are likely to find themselves in a much more dangerous situation than the coronavirus epidemic and the need to make much more difficult decisions.