A chemical weapons expert has warned that a Covid-type virus could be used as a weapon by terrorists, sparking a deadly pandemic, it has been reported.
Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is said to have called on the government to prioritise biosecurity in its soon-to-be-published defence review.
The Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy is set to be published on Tuesday.
Ministers say it will ‘make the case for a UK international policy that rests on strong domestic foundations in particular our security, resilience and a robust economy at home.’
In the wake of the Covid pandemic Colonel de Bretton-Gordon was reported to have said he was ‘concerned’ about the threat of a man-made pandemic deliberately being imported into the UK.
According to the Daily Mail the ex-commander of the military’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment said concerns had been made about the issue being overlooked.
He said: “I hope the politicians are not over-prioritising bombs and bullets when pathogens actually pose a more realistic threat to British lives.
“I am concerned it may be overlooked because we know this threat exists.
“While it was almost certainly not conceived as a weapon, the spread of Covid-19 has provided a template for terrorists, as well as Russia and China, for how effective a biological weapon could be.”
He told the paper it was ‘highly likely’ those states were researching biological weapons.
The Colonel went on to call for an international monitoring group to be set up to inspect the labs where deadly pathogens might be manufactured.
The review will be published this week and Boris Johnson said of the document: “The foundation of our foreign policy is who we are as a country: our values, our strengths and – most importantly – our people.
“So I am determined to ensure we have a foreign policy that delivers for those people.
“Our international ambitions must start at home, and through the Integrated Review we will drive investment back into our communities, ensuring the UK is on the cutting-edge of innovation and creating an entire country that is match-fit for a more competitive world.”