Bird flu mutation sparks fears of deadly pandemic

Sunday, February 5, 2012
By Paul Martin

Nick Miller
SMH.com.au
February 4, 2012

A GROUP of US scientists warns that current research runs the risk of releasing a virus that could kill half the world’s population.

At a public meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences on Thursday night, some of the country’s leading virus experts debated the censorship of research into bird flu.

Scientists are observing a 60-day moratorium on research into the virus, after two groups found a way to make it infectious by airborne transmission.

An outbreak of this virus could be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people, warned Professor Michael Osterholm, who has led research into previous dangerous outbreaks.

“Frankly, I don’t want a virus out there that, even if it was 20 times less lethal, would still be the worst influenza pandemic in history,” he said.

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