The coronavirus outbreak shows us the possible ways huge genetic databases could be used to target specific groups of people with an engineered virus.

Tyler S. Farley

Despite claims from the Chinese government, the coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, cases are increasing in far-off places like North Korea and even Iran. The fact that these relatively closed off countries are seeing outbreaks shows the virus is now a global threat.

But when looking at the how the virus operates, it suggests a troubling way that genetic databases could be used against specific populations.

Over the years many of you have seen the explosion of DNA companies promising to give you detailed family history for $50 or less. All you have to do is submit a DNA sample and in a few days you get the results. For some it seems like some harmless fun that is a great way to connect with your past. Companies like AncestryDNA use commercials that show family members coming together when finding out about their shared genetic past. However, the truth is much different than what is portrayed in the television commercials. These companies are simply data mining operations pretending to be ancestry companies. Their main goal is to build a database of genetic material for later use. It’s all very similar to the way Facebook pretended to “connect” people but the real goal was to collect vast troves of data on everybody to be used later. By the time people realized what was going on with Facebook, the data had already been collected.

When we look at the coronavirus, we see that it only infects people with specific receptors in their lungs. Those with Ace2 expressing AT2 cell receptors are the most likely to catch the virus and become sick. Certain groups of Asian men seem to have the highest number of these receptors (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).

So as you can start to imagine, if there was a database of genetic information that included tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of people, you could find certain groups or populations that had certain receptors for certain man-made viruses. A virus or pathogen could then be created to target a specific population group.

The implications of this should be terrifying for anyone who understands how easily science can get out of control. Even a virus engineered to target a specific population that was only meant to be a test or an experiment could still get out accidentally. So even if no nefarious motivations are present, such research could still end up causing disaster.

There is already proof that the genetic material sent to companies such as AncestryDNA has been bought by pharmaceutical companies and others. So testing is going on right now to find different markers in different groups of genetic populations that can be exploited. Some of it may be for good causes, but assuredly as with all scientific advancement, some is being done to cause harm. In this case via possible viral warfare.