Science experiments with deadly viruses risk decimating humankind, warn experts

Monday, May 26, 2014
By Paul Martin

by: L.J. Devon
Monday, May 26, 2014

Is a viral pandemic capable of emerging from a laboratory? New Harvard and Yale research suggests that a new viral outbreak is inevitable within the next 10 years, and it may accidentally be derived from laboratories. As scientists experiment with viruses to develop new vaccines, it may only be a matter of time before the inevitable occurs.

Scientific communities around the world are racing against the clock to alter and even create virus strains, as they study viral evolution and immunology. Two studies released in 2012 basically published a recipe for mutant bird flu, which can be passed from ferrets to humans. This brings up the possibility that viruses may one day fall into the wrong hands and be intentionally released onto groups of unsuspecting people. Devious scientists may want to see how these new mutant virus strains spread in real time.

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a panel of the Department of Health and Human Services, sees the risk of mutant virus recipes getting in the wrong hands. In 2012, the panel ruled that the two studies on mutant bird flu from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam and the University of Wisconsin could not be published because of security reasons. Worried that the recipe for mutant bird flu could fall into the hands of terrorists, the Biosecurity panel blocked the publishing. However, after months of delay, the two controversial studies were released, provoking further research of their kind. Interestingly enough, this research is primarily funded by none other than the US government.

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