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ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS—Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.
The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it's likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.
NSABB chair Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist, says he cannot discuss specific studies but confirms that the board has "worked very hard and very intensely for several weeks on studies about H5N1 transmissibility in mammals."
The NSABB is a federal advisory committee chartered to provide advice, guidance, and leadership regarding biosecurity oversight of dual use research, defined as biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a biologic threat to public health and/or national security.
"I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one," adds Keim, who has worked on anthrax for many years. "I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the work, has agreed to the publication, says Fouchier, including officials at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (NIH declined to answer questions for this story.) Now, Fouchier is eagerly waiting for NSABB's judgment.
...But he says it should be possible to omit certain key details from controversial papers and make them available to people who really need to know. "We don't want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad," he says.
For instance, a proposal by four researchers from the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland would have classified Fouchier's work as an "activity of extreme concern" that would have required international pre-approval.
It was only a matter of time, it appears. After months of silence from members of Congress, a senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives has publicly inserted himself into the debate over two controversial studies that showed how to make the H5N1 avian influenza virus transmissible between mammals
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), a former head of the House committees on science and the judiciary, and currently vice chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, last week sent a "fact-finding letter" to White House science adviser John Holdren, asking pointed questions about how the U.S. government has handled the controversy—and questioning whether it should have funded the two flu studies.
The outstanding question is less about why the NSABB is recommending against publication than it is about why this research was performed at all. I place great value on open scientific research and the free flow of ideas-these principles are truly the foundation for innovation and scientific advancement-but in the present case, researchers have created an organism that, if released, could kill millions of people worldwide. At a time when malevolent actors are actively seeking biological weapons of mass destruction, scientists have succeeded in creating an organism that we have all prayed nature would not.
Highlighting the danger, Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, argued that it may already be too late to control the research. Dr. Schaffner said, "We already have a growing pyramid of people who know all these data, and that pyramid will continue to grow over time."
Further, if circumstances pose a legitimate threat to global health, the government needs a review system that is capable of identifying and preventing the spread of dangerous research, ideally before the research is conducted.
Originally posted by FissionSurplus
I just cannot swallow their PR lies that research and manipulation of the flu viruses is done in order to understand how it works.
This is a perfect way to eliminate literally millions of people, if it were weaponized.
J. Patrick Fitch, Ph.D., is Laboratory Director for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) and the President of Battelle National Biodefense Institute, LLC (BNBI). BNBI manages and operates the NBACC national laboratory for the Department of Homeland Security as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center established in 2006.
"The Ebolapox could produce the form of smallpox called blackpox," Alibek says. Blackpox, sometimes known as hemorrhagic smallpox, is the most severe type of smallpox disease. In a blackpox infection, the skin does not develop blisters. Instead, the skin becomes dark all over. Blood vessels leak, resulting in severe internal hemorrhaging. Blackpox is invariably fatal. "As a weapon, the Ebolapox would give the hemorrhages and high mortality rate of Ebola virus, which would give you a blackpox, plus the very high contagiousness of smallpox," Alibek said.
Many scientists believe this would be a mistake. They think that research on what could possibly make H5N1 deadly to humans is too urgent to be put under onerous security constraints.
Originally posted by Juston
reply to post by FissionSurplus
Well, you MUST read The Stand! And make sure it's the one King re-released
Don't waste time with the Mini-Series...unless you are done with the book.
On topic though, that's interesting about lime disease. Definitely going to have to look into that one. Who knows what's been unleashed on the people by governments.