Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should. ~ Jurassic Park
Maybe the scariest news I've come across in years is that a team of scientists have genetically altered the Avian Flu to make it a highly contagious plague virus.
The H5N1 virus is a bird flu that only extremely rarely makes the species jump to infect humans. When it does make the jump it kills half the people it infects.

The scientists asked the question, "how hard can it be to convert H5N1 into a human specific pathogen."  In the process they also accidentally made it an airborne virus with the potential to kill hundreds of millions of people should it ever be released. Now they need to publish their work to get their Nobel Prize.

The scientists are reassuring. They insist they will keep their killer bug under lock and key. Of course once they publish their techniques any microbiologist with a petri dish and a few ferrets can copy their efforts. They insist that the H5 strain is incapable of producing a pandemic because it hasn't in the past. Of course since they have been playing with the genetics all bets are off. They insist they only did this to encourage research into vaccines for H5N1. Of course, having invented the disease they would be the ones to hire to cure it.

Kind of reminds me of the discredited(?) rumors about AIDS being a weaponized simian virus that escaped the labs.

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