Remember the whole bird flu scare of a year or two ago? We dodged that bullet, so what are scientists doing now? You guessed it: creating a new strain of the avian flu virus that can jump from species to species. And this is supposedly in the name of protecting our health? Really, scientists, isn’t there some cure for disease you could be working on?
Previously there was concern that the H5N1 virus would jump between birds to infect humans. And, when we were warned about a possible pandemic, scientists agreed on a moratorium to prevent the creation of new strains of this virus…to prevent any new strains from passing from birds to humans. Yet here they are only one year later…trying to CREATE a new strain of this virus. Scientists are changing the H5N1 avian flu virus in the lab to make it transmissible between mammals through “respiratory droplets”—in this case ferrets. According to the news reports, Dutch virologists will be attempting to understand how the bird virus could spread through the air to humans. News reports suggest that the experiments will begin in weeks.
The same research was considered a biosecurity threat only a year ago. Now, we’re supposed to believe that it is in our best interests? I don’t think so.
On its own the H5N1 virus occasionally infects individual humans but thankfully it doesn’t seem to spread between people. By working on a new more transmissible version of the virus, scientists worldwide will be watching to see if the virus mutates and acquires that ability. Isn’t that like crashing a plane to see if people could survive a plane crash? I’m not convinced that this is the best use research money. And it certainly doesn’t sound ethical to me. And a year ago it didn’t sound ethical to the scientific community who agreed to the voluntary moratorium on such research either.
Just because scientists have the capacity to do something doesn’t mean they should do it. Why are they encouraging the proliferation of pathogenic strains that could potentially harm humans?
What do you think? Do you think scientists should be altering the bird flu virus to make it transmissible to mammals through the air?