By Steve George
March 15, 2018
It’s been called one of the deadliest chemical weapons ever made.
Novichok, the substance confirmed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to have been used in the attempted murder of a Russian ex-spy is both lethal and highly unusual.
Few scientists outside Russia have any experience with it.
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The chemical, which means “newcomer” in Russian, was developed by the former Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s.
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Its existence was revealed in the 1990s by a disgruntled Soviet scientist and whistleblower.
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No country except Russia is known to have developed the substance.
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Novichok is colorless, odorless and tasteless.
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It causes a slowing of the heart and restriction of the airways, leading to a slow and often painful death by asphyxiation. Even small doses cause confusion and drowsiness.
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There is no treatment, only supportive care, including oxygen, anti-seizure medication and other drugs used to help people who have been poisoned.