You know that ‘killer bird flu’ I talked about at FreeOK2? Last year some governments FREAKED OUT because scientists evolved a mammal-to-mammal transmissible bird flu in the lab, and the government officials were concerned that The Worlds Stupidest Terrorists would try to use it as a weapon. Somehow. For some reason.
stupid government officials stupid concerns, two papers were published that demonstrated the obvious benefits of performing this kind of research: knowledge about how a mammal transmissible could evolve, and what are the odds of this happening in nature. Very cool findings! Very cool– seriously read this link.
Well all the scientists studying influenza voluntarily decided to stop studying this virus while the governments and regulatory agencies get their underwear out of their butts.
Scientists are done waiting.
… Thus, acknowledging that the aims of the voluntary moratorium have been met in some countries and are close to being met in others, we declare an end to the voluntary moratorium on avian-flu transmission studies.
The controversy surrounding H5N1 virus-transmission research has highlighted the need for a global approach to dealing with dual-use research of concern. Developing comprehensive solutions to resolve all the issues will take time. Meanwhile, H5N1 viruses continue to evolve in nature.
… We fully acknowledge that this research — as with any work on infectious agents — is not without risks. However, because the risk exists in nature that an H5N1 virus capable of transmission in mammals may emerge, the benefits of this work outweigh the risks.
We can study mammal-transmissible influenza now, or we can wait until it evolves in nature, wait until its killing people, wait until its overloading hospital systems, wait until the antivirals are out of supply, and hope we figure out a solution.
No more waiting. You all know I love viruses, but I will be quite happy never to meet this particular creature in the wild.