Frightening: How easy is it to launch a biological attack? Really easy, says MoD expert

'Do you know what was in the sandwich you had at lunchtime? When you walked in today and saw someone polishing the floor, how do you know it is floor polish? '

It remains "really easy" for terrorists to launch a biological attack by spreading disease among the population, according to the Ministry of Defence's Director of Infection Prevention and Control.

Giving a lecture at independent defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Group Captain Andy Green also said younger people were today likening HIV/Aids to a "sore throat" as their risk perception had changed due to the ability to manage the illness.

Responding to a question on how feasible it would be to deliberately introduce a disease to the UK that could lead to pandemic, GC Green said: "Do you know what was in the sandwich you had at lunchtime? When you walked in today and saw someone polishing the floor, how do you know it is floor polish? You start thinking about what you did and didn't see. How easy is it to do? The answer is 'really easy'.

"There have been a number of suspicious outbreaks in the UK of common easily transmissible infections."

GC Green cited the outbreak of dysentery in Haywards Heath in 1998 which affected 40 people and was traced back to the salad bar at the local Sainsbury's.

"What is stopping anybody putting a syringe full of something (into a supermarket salad bar)? It comes back to what your strategy is. If you want to cause terror you don't have to do very much at all."

Speaking the day after HMS Daring had arrived in the Philippines to distribute aid as part of the UK's response to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, GC Green said countries must coordinate their efforts if they want to avoid the problems experienced following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

He said: "We're not putting in a heavy medical contingent. Other nations have that capability…we will be going in to help with broader initiatives. I suspect it will initially be reconnaissance rather than emergency (relief). The whole point with any disaster relief intervention is that it needs to be organised.

"The Philippines, it sounds odd, is lucky in that it is just one country - one of the difficulties with the tsunami is that it affected a number of different countries and there was no concerted regional response. You had some countries supporting, for instance, supporting Sri Lanka, others going to Indonesia, others to Malaysia - and it got very patchy and fragmented."

GC Green also spoke during his lecture about how the British attitude towards HIV/Aids has changed since the introduction of effective drugs in the mid-1990s.

He said: "HIV/Aids has just become in the UK just another treatable disease, it's just dropped off our radar.

"The at-risk population are saying 'why is it different to gonorrhoea or a sore throat? I can just go to the doctor and get an antibiotic'. You can't, because you still need to carry on taking the drugs. There is clearly a difference in risk perception."

Suggested Topics
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Juniper Security Consultant

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Juniper Security Consultant London (Greater)

C# .NET Developer (SQL, ASP.NET, JS, MVC) London - Finance

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment