Mutating Viruses…

BioChemist

Writing a Fictional story ending with the line – Both of them left and he started wondering whether he had done the right thing.

A cloudy winter night in San Francisco – San Jose on September 15th 1971, turned into something Dr Philip and Dr Rob never expected. The two bio-chemical scientists were good friends who had a newly opened chemical lab near the outskirts of San Jose. They had a doctorate in molecular biology – dealing with the composition and structure of cells in general. They sat around endless shelves of different coloured chemicals, lab equipments and huge documentaries of various discoveries. The walls which were bare, were stuck with a variety of bar charts, statistics, etc.

Dr Philip and Dr Rob were in huge debt as they had to repay a loan taken for building their lab. If they weren’t able to repay the instalments, their lab would be taken away leaving them jobless. Stressed out, they thought about various ideas for getting enough money for days, but nothing seemed to work. One late winter night as they sat on their chairs, Dr Philip had an idea. Philip said with bright cunning eyes, “what if we secretly release a mutated deadly virus, and as it affects country by country, we already have a 100% affective cure or vaccine which we release and get credit for as the saviour – earning millions of dollars! More than enough to repay that loan!”

Dr Rob, had millions of questions streaming through his head, How will we carry it out in time? How will we “secretly release” it? What kind of virus is this anyway? And most importantly, what about all the harm caused to billions of people around the globe – we will be responsible for it! Well, Philip had all the answers to his questions except the last one – to which he replied, “Really? that doesnt matter and how does it affect us? We are getting the money and thats all I care about.”

And about the virus? Well, Dr Philip wants to mutate the MarBurg Virus – An already deadly virus into a more dangerous and fatal one. The MarBurg Virus alone, has no vaccine or cure found till now and Dr Philip expects that the mutated gene of this virus will cause hemorrhagic fever, meaning that infected people develop high fevers and bleeding throughout the body that can lead to shock, organ failure and death.

Dr Rob was not convinced. He started having second thoughts about this whole idea. Releasing a deadly virus and harming the whole world? Quarantine and Lockdowns will become a norm and the population will be in danger. Causing so many difficulties to the whole world and, maybe even staring a pandemic just to earn some money? Doesn’t that seem selfish? Dr Rob didn’t utter a word. He just played along with Philip having a plan at the back of his mind.

Dr Philip on the other hand was totally convinced his idea would work. He got started the next morning and how time flew. The next couple of months were extremely crucial for the development of their plan. The virus was successfully mutated after long procedures and its deadly effects were recorded. After the virus was ready, Dr Philip named it the MarB-2 as in the second strand of the MarBurg Virus.

Now it was Phase 2 of the plan – The Vaccine. Both these scientists started working on the vaccine which was actually the main and most gruelling part of their plan. Without this vaccine, their plan would go back slope and would defeat the purpose.

As Philip worked on the vaccine, Dr Rob decided to go against the plan. He couldn’t stand the fact that this virus would be risking the lives of the whole world and putting everyone in grave danger. Leaving aside the fact that he would receive a whole lot of money later, he decided to report Dr Philip to The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) – who deals with unethical scientists.

He kept this aside from Philip and continued working with him. After a week of reporting to the officials, he received a call from them to meet up at Dr Rob’s Lab in inquiry of the claimed case. Dr Rob accepted and convinced Philip to take the night off to relax and take a break outside the Lab.

That night 2 officers arrived and Dr Rob explained everything to them. He showed them the right evidence and the officers understood what happened. Dr Rob thought, did he just save this world from a global pandemic or did he betray his friend? The officers thanked Rob and said that appropriate action will be soon taken against Dr Philip. Both of them left and he started wondering whether he had done the right thing.

Featured Image Courtesy – https://jobs.newscientist.com

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