Man-made superflu – not really a good idea. Part 2…

A little while ago I wrote about the stupidity of manipulating the H5N1 bird flu virus to make person-to-person transmission easy. The following, from the BBC News website confirms just how right I was to feel that way:-

Research fears

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has expressed deep concern about the way research was being carried out on the H5N1 virus, which can be fatal if transmitted to humans.

Such work carried significant risks and must be tightly controlled, said the WHO.

Scientists in the Netherlands and the US said last week they had discovered ways in which the virus might mutate so it can spread more easily to – and between – humans and other mammals.

The US government has asked the scientists not to publish full details, in case the information is used to produce a biological weapon. (End)


2 thoughts on “Man-made superflu – not really a good idea. Part 2…

  1. Hi Ron,

    Am I stupid to wonder why they’re doing this? I guess they could argue it’s to get a head start on working on a vaccine for when virus does mutate of it’s own accord, but as they’ve already increased the risk to people in many ways, with this work (as covered in your previous post), it would be hard for me to follow that reasoning.

    I do wonder if he’s just some narcissist who did it because he could and because he can claim a percentage of potential vaccine sales.

    I’m very pro-scientific advancement, but a key question should be: how responsible is this? How could it be used and misused? Who will profit and at whose expense?

    I know that there are ethics protocols and committees which supposedly take these questions into consideration, but I can’t help thinking something just went wrong here.


    • Hi Apples,

      He did this, as far as I can see, for no better reason than that he could. He’s already publicised his method in sufficient detail for anyone to replicate it with a little trial and error – hence my original, angry post – and he was planning on farming it out to other scientists to play with. Not the sort of stuff you want Yodel to get hold of – not telling where it’ll wind up.

      But let’s not forget that scientists have little regard for consequences – Oppenheimer seriously thought his shiny, new, atomic bomb might set the atmosphere alight and wipe out all life on Earth – but the possibility didn’t even slow him down!

      I can’t see any virtue in this research at all. Before he did this, H5N1 was a minor problem outside China, where people traditionally live in close proximity to their livestock. It is – or was – actually quite difficult to contract H5N1 as casually as you would ordinary flu.

      This is research that should have been carried out by someone like the CDC in the US, under maximum security, not plastered all over the media by this publicity-seeking tosser!


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