Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) laboratorian, as he was putting on an older-model positive-pressur

Scientist to Reveal Flu Mutation that could Kill Billions

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) laboratorian, as he was putting on an older-model positive-pressur
Terrence Aym's image for:
"Scientist to Reveal Flu Mutation that could Kill Billions"
Caption: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) laboratorian, as he was putting on an older-model positive-pressur
Image by: CDC/ Brian W.J. Mahy, BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, DSc
© A work of the CDC and Prevention part of the U.S. government, the image is in the public domain.

The United States government rushed to block it…The World Health Organization (WHO) called for its suppression…But now the research on a deadly mutated flu strain that WHO says could kill billions is about to be released.

Back in 2011, two scientists worked to create a mutated version of the fatal H5N1 influenza virus. Their experiments created what some experts described as a viable mass bio-weapon capable of killing off much of the world's population.

When WHO learned of the development, the UN health organization took the unprecedented step of announcing that it was "deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences."

Those "negative consequences" included the information being used by rogue nations to weaponize the virulent virus into a potent WMD with the ability to spread—and deadly enough to kill billions of people.

Mutated virus can spread between mammals

One scientist—Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands—fought back against any restriction. He wanted to publish the protocols used to create tha Doomsday flu in peer-reviewed scientific publications to be used for research by other bio-engineers.

American security analysts immdediately stepped forward condemning the research as the mutated virus can spread between mammals. They called for a global blackout on any of the protocols employed by the two scientists that led to the creation of the deadly virus.

Using abnormally strong language, some members of the U.S. National Science Advisory Biosecurity Board (NSABB) demanded that two journals planning to publish the controversial research study make available only severely redacted versions.

That caused an uproar amongst bio-engineering scientists, and the editors of the journals (Nature and Science) also balked at such restrictions.

Responding to the request for self-censorship, Science editor-in-chief, Bruce Alberts, agreed to omit some information, but demanded the right to negotiate the details with the government board. He said the NSABB “asked Science to delete details regarding both scientific methodology and specific viral mutations.”

Many in the scientific community argued strongly that without the methodology and mutation data, publication of the study is meaningless.

But NSABB chairman Paul Keim shot back at the angry scientists, “I can’t think of another pathogenic virus as scary as this one. I don’t think anthrax is scary at all compared to this.”

All during the furor, the other scientist—Yoshihiro Kawaoka, of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison—remained silent. He deflected calls from the press refusing to make any statement.

NSABB drops earlier objection

Now the Nature blog writes that Kawaoka's silence has come to an abrupt end.

On April 3, 2012, he shared the results of the H5N1 bird-flu mutation at a Royal Society meeting in London, England. He was free to talk as the NSABB surprisingly dropped its earlier objection voting unanimously that the full research should be published after all.

The journal Nature has announced it will “proceed with publication as soon as possible."

The special mutation that makes the virus much more transmissible will be fully revealed in the published paper. Kawaoka is quoted as saying, “Unless you knew what to look for, you wouldn’t have found it.”

Which means that terror states like Iran or North Korea probably would have been stymied. Now, with publication, there is a greater chance they can duplicate the research and create a terrifying bio-weapon.

Some experts claim such a weapon, if used, is uncontrollable. In its mutated form, they fear, the deadly bird-flu might jump continents and theoretically could infect billions. Most of the infected would die.

As this article went to press WHO, and the American security analysts, had not yet responded.

More about this author: Terrence Aym

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