In the second book of the series, Dark Secrets, the immortality virus has been created and has escaped from the complex despite all precautions. The Triplets find a way to control their new adversity John Liu and decide to set him up as their fall guy.
“… Now we want you to do a little task for us,” Sir Richard interjected. “Take these cans of antiseptic - spray it on this cloth, and then use it in Hexham. We want you to visit every single pub there….”
“… Go to the toilet,” Lady Triplet added. “Spray the door handle or plate of each toilet door, and then give them a quick wipe with these cloths. None of this is going to hurt you ….”
“… Don’t worry,” Juanita chimed in. “In fact, they will do you good….”
“… If anyone asks you why you’re doing this, tell them you’re mysophobic – a clean freak,” Richard smiled.
Donna softly laughed. She was enjoying watching Liu flip his attention from one side of the table to the other. “Next, put on a pair of these gloves,” Donna said, sliding the box to the end of the conference table in front of Liu. “Spray the gloves with the antiseptic and go shopping….”
“… Visit all the supermarkets, department stores, fast-food shops - everywhere you can, and make a trip to the hospital too. John chuckled. He was enjoying the look of horror on Liu’s face. “Browse through the magazines and stuff in the shop….”
“… Make sure you touch everywhere that other people might touch,” Gary said. “Don’t forget things like shopping trolley handles, handrails, lift buttons, the children’s rides - get the idea?”
“What is this stuff?” Liu asked. “Why do you want me to do this?”
“I think you can guess what it is John,” Sir Richard said. “And as to why - payback’s a bitch isn’t it? Now don’t dispose of the empty cans or cloth packets. We want them back, the gloves too. When you’re done, report back to Lady Triplet, using the same number you did before. She’ll tell you what to do next. I will keep our side of the bargain. I’ll give you the will. Now you need to get a move on. It’s Christmas Eve, and you don’t want to miss the shops.”
In fact what John Liu is spreading is quite harmless - it really is an antiseptic. John doesn't know this, he believes he's spreading the virus, but he must do this if he is to get the antidote to the poison he believes he's been injected with.
Just how likely is it that a virus could be spread like this? The answer is that it's very possible but the virus we modify to create the immortality virus (HIV) is unlikely to spread like this - it dries out too quickly.
So what does spread like this? A good example is a very nasty bug which is causing tremendous problems in our hospitals and health centers - MRSA. Bacteria can also be spread from these surfaces E Coli is often found.
There's one area we didn't mention as a possible surface to contaminate - touchscreens. They are increasingly being used everywhere. For example my doctor's surgery uses a touchscreen for patients to login for their appointments. Read this article from the BBC on how anti-contamination screens coatings are being developed to combat the problem http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23133453 .
Maybe there is a case for people to start wearing gloves again? You might also like our blog post on bio-terrorism and the common cold from 2011.
You can get a copy of Dark Secrets and a free copy of the first book, A Vested Interest, through this page.
How likely is an immortality virus? What would be it's effect? It's not just fiction - find out here.