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During the Second Cold War, the United States government teams up with the CDC and Atlas Biotech to create a disease powerful enough to wipe out whole countries. It has to fit all the set up criteria, so what virus could they modify it from?

Criteria

  • The disease has to stay dormant in a host body for 6 months to a year, so it can spread

  • The virus has to multiply quickly, to be more effective

  • Its symptoms have to be mild at first, so as not to arouse suspicion

  • It has to be curable, so that USA and allies aren’t affected

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closed as too broad by Mołot, L.Dutch, sphennings, Andon, Aify May 29 '18 at 18:04

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    $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/67266/809 $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '18 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Basically you want a (biological) weapon that takes 6 months to 1 year to kill the enemy, so that they have the time to invade your territories with ease? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch May 29 '18 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch: There is no invasion it’s a Cold War. There just going to send a spy to release the disease to start up the party, then while everyone is dying, they’ll invade $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper May 29 '18 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash "mutate" appearing or not in the question is irrelevant — as long as OP wants cure, mutations must be considered, unless explicitly handwaved. And "curable" appears in the question all right. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '18 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ The whole point of a cold war is that both sides believe their best strategy favors deterrence over aggression. One purpose of a military hierarchy is to assess and minimize risks when using force in order to prevent unexpected ripple effects. Such a bioweapon would seem to be both aggressive and intended to create unexpected ripples. The decision to heat up a war by using such a weapon seems incompetent. And the genocide's survivors would burn with hate for generations - somebody just turned an easy, expensive deterrence into something much nastier and darker. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 29 '18 at 16:00
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This is a terrible idea. I don't think you could suspend someone's disbelief into thinking this would work even in a fictional world.

If you are vaccinating your people as a whole, the world at large will know you are up to something. Otherwise, your own people are at risk. The enemy can destroy you simply by sending your spies back, plus a few extra infected people of their own.

A nation should always assumed that it is being spied on, as well. If you have a vaccine, so do your enemies.

If you wish to go for biological warfare and you don't want to figuratively shoot yourself on your foot, you don't go for a killer infection that will either be too easy to contain, nor powerful enough that it may come back at you. If this has to be a plot point for you, then the powers that be in your world have thrown reason outta the window anyway.


The situation changes if the enemies are biologically very different from you - such as aliens, or fantasy races.

In Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series of books, a group of humans is at the brink of starting a war against a much more advanced species. The aliens preemptively hit the humans with a disease similar to what you describe. The aliens can cure it, but they don't have to worry about it because it won't affect them. This renders the whole worry about your weapon coming back at you a moot point, thus allowing for its usage without much suspension of disbelief.

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Hepatitis B actually comes surprisingly close to this: The incubation period can be similar to your requirement, up to 180 days, and the symptoms start out pretty mild. You can vaccinate against Hepatitis B and a number of countries do so as a routine part of childhood treatment so if it isn't mutated too far when it's weaponised then that vaccine could still be effective.

On the not going to work side; symptoms usually stay mild to nonexistent for years or in fact for the whole life of infected individuals. Additionally it's not a disease that can easily spread between people and certainly doesn't spread through casual contact. Both of these issues would have to be overcome during weaponisation to create a useful bioweapon and neither of them are going to be easy to fix.

Due to the mutability of viral pathogens you'd be better off with a bacterium, easier to maintain curability, bacteria are also easier to grow and spread since they don't need live cells to continue their life cycle.

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