Details of new lab-created bird flu strain may be too dangerous to publish
December 21st, 2011
05:39 PM ET

Details of new lab-created bird flu strain may be too dangerous to publish

A genetically altered strain of the H5N1 avian flu virus is at the center of a controversial request to keep the details of its creation under wraps.

Scientists in Wisconsin and the Netherlands each created a strain of the influenza virus that is both highly lethal and easily transmitted between ferrets.  Ferrets are the animals that most closely mimic the human response to the flu.

The Dutch paper, on the transmissibility of H5N1, was to be published in the journal Science and the University of Wisconsin study was to be published in the journal Nature.  But the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), an independent committee that advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  and other federal agencies on biosecurity matters reviewed the manuscripts and expressed concern about the release of some of the data.

"We did not think that these papers should be published in the form that we saw them and that the methods and results should be removed to prevent someone else from directly replicating their experiments," Dr. Paul Keim, a microbiologist and chair of NSABB said.  "The avian flu is one of the scariest pathogens that is on the horizon and its transmissibility in mammals is a step toward transmissibility in human populations.  The flu could be transmissible from human to human and that could happen in nature or perhaps it could happen in a laboratory.  Whether from a natural source or a nefarious source this would not be a good thing for the world."

Keim says while there is no legal consequence to publishing the papers, the fact that the virus has a documented 60% mortality rate cannot be understated. "The worse case scenarios with this particular pathogen are devastating. It's a high mortality virus and it's a virus that could go global. It's something that we, the scientific community, have been worried for almost a decade."

CNN Opinion: When censoring science makes sense

The board also has recommended there be an international communication between policy makers, scientists and governments to set policy in this area so that future decisions are not made solely by scientists and journals.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, which funded the studies. He says such requests are not unheard of. "This is not the first time that a request has been made of the NSABB to look at a paper for dual use potential and possible holding back of information. It is, however, the first time that the NSABB has made such a recommendation for any paper."

Both journals and the investigators are now working on new manuscripts.  Keim said ultimately the content will be up to them.  "This is really a decision between the journals and their scientific investigators.  But we all need to have a discussion on how these experiments are done and how the results are communicated. This has to be an international discussion."

In a statement Tuesday, Science Editor-in-Chief Dr. Bruce Alberts said: " We strongly support the work of the NSABB and the importance of its mission for advancing science to serve society."  At the same time, however, Alberts says he has concerns about withholding potentially important public-health information from responsible influenza researchers.  "Many scientists within the influenza community have a bona fide need to know the details of this research in order to protect the public, especially if they currently are working with related strains of the virus."

But according to Dr. Michael T. Osterholm , who also is a NSABB board member and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, this is not about censorship.

"We all agree that the ultimate original sin is censorship but we also understand that there is a way to move critical information to those who have a need to know without informing the entire world.  What I mean by the entire world, particularly those individuals who may want to try to duplicate this work and that virus somehow get into the population." Osterholm said. "The efforts we have really undertaken is to try to find that right middle point.  How do we make sure that the right information is moved to the people who need to know but not in the hands of those who could use it for unfortunate purposes.  How easily could this get into the hands of terrorists or anyone who might want to do harm with it?

And Fauci says they are working on a remedy that will allow other researchers to access the data. "We (the U.S.government with the NIH doing the first draft) are working on a process that will hopefully be ready by the time of publication of the manuscripts (late January early February) whereby scientists, health officials, and others who have a legitimate need to know the precise details of the experiments can have access to them."

soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Dallas Snell

    I recieved my first Swine flu shot in 1975 while in the Army. I was on the big Island of Hawaii during training at Pohakuloa Training Area and the only animals up there were wild pigs and Turkeys.

    December 22, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ec123

    The fact that something like this can even be published in the public domain is astounding. It's intuitively obvious that this new strain is a potiential tool for germ warfare. IT'S A WEOPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION. I can't believe there isn't already a protocol for this type of information. How can we know one of the scientists who are privledged to review this information won't go kooky with it? Does anyone remember the 9-11 anthrax special deliveries? It turned out the purportrator was just like these scientists! This kind of information isn't safe in anyone's hands. Considering the huge potential risks of this kind research, they shouldn't even be allowed to build it unless they know how to stop it...in advance!

    December 22, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • plantvirolog

      How can you "stop something in advance" when you don't know how it works to begin with? The whole point of the research is to understand what changes are needed to make this highly pathogenic strain of flu person-to-person transmittable. If we know that then we can begin looking for rational and effective ways to combat the virus. The natural process of replication of flu virus results in lots and lots of mistakes being made. Each mistake has the potential to generate a new strain of virus with different properties than the parent strain has. So the mutants are out there (or will be in time) and all that is needed is the selection of human-to-human transmittable variants. This something that can and likely will happen eventually. Understanding what those changes might be will help us deal with the new variant when it arrives.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • Literate

      What I can't believe is that you managed to use such big words in your in your comments without having any real clue how to spell them. There is an interesting tool on your computer I suggest you look in to called spell check, or if that is too advanced for you I would suggest a book called a dictionary.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred Einstein (Clone)

      Well said Plantvirolog!

      December 22, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      I think this info should be given ONLY to individual that do the research to find cure for this. Not to send out to the General Public

      December 22, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • ec123

      Literate: I can tell that you must be one of the folks that created the germ. I mean really, does my spelling affect the message in any way? Does what I say not have any credibility because I dont' spell as good as you, Mr. Germ?

      Here's a filosofecal question: If some scientist says he has a theory to build a machine that will destroy the Universe, should he be allowed to build it to test his theory? There are ways of testing the theory without destroying everything...it's just harder to be safer. Man up Mr. Viron figure out a better way!

      December 22, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • Gopherit

      If the bird flu isn't very much of a communicable disease threat to humans, why genetically engineer it into a potentially deadly and highly communicable disease – so that a vaccine can be developed to prevent its infecting people when it wasn't very communicable to start with? Sounds much like a sci fi plot, only with potentially disastrous consequences. Or is it a plot by some pharmaceutical manufacturer to enable it to develop and manufacture a vaccine to which only they would hold the rights, so that they could charge huge sums for it and basically hold the world hostage to the company?

      December 22, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Your spelling grades were a WEOPON OF CLASS DESTRUCTION.

      December 23, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
    • gino

      Let's hear for government-financed Frankenstein research projects. Was this really necessary? Gives the lab nuts something to do with their hands...

      December 24, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • gino

      you are absolutely correct, sir.

      December 24, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mark R

      Does anyone remember the Manhattan Project? Ultimately leaked to the Russians. This is going to get out.

      December 25, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Michael

    Why the HELL are they even making this in a lab? Proves that none of this is naturally occurring.

    December 22, 2011 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • freetime1

      " Proves that none of this is naturally occurring."

      Virus do in fact change and mutate/evolve in nature. This happens and it is a fact. The why would they do it in the lab question is a good one. If they were doing it to stay ahead of the possible ways it might likely evolve in nature so they will have treatments and immunizations for it might be the reason why. It sad that work to keep people safe could also be used to kill. After the nuclear meltdowns we have seen this last year we know any man made precautions have the potential of failure. With a 60% mortality rate, lets hope the research facilities that are doing this research are hundreds of times more secure then are are our nuclear facilities. But I bet they are not.

      December 22, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      Totally agree. We will see this on the street after all this cools down in a few years and they will say this is a natural occuring flu after we forget about this article.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Sunflower

      Rumor was for years that AIDS was developed in a lab on monkeys, they escaped, and it spread from there... Given this new situation, I'm more inclined to beleive it....

      December 22, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
    • plantvirolog

      Sunflower, the AIDS rumor is just that, a rumor. There is not one single shred of credible evidence in support of that rumor. There are numerous well tested studies that shows that HIV originated from SIV in primates and "jumped" to humans as HIV in at least two separate events. Don't confuse rumor with fact.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Look...my education is in microbiology with a specialization in viral genetics, specifically bacteriophages. I can tell you from working with this sort of thing, "genetic modification" is nothing like what you see in the movies. A "created" virus is simply one you accelerate the growth of by feeding it, and encouraging specific activity via environmental factors, e.g. providing anti-viral factors to eliminate the "weak" bugs, so the strong proliferate.

      You CAN create "bullets" to insert genes into live cells with viral particles by inserting genes into it via tools, but you CANNOT make it a viable virus at the same time because where you're inserting those genes almost universally disrupts at least one reproductive gene because viruses are designed by nature to do one thing: reproduce. Everything in their genetic code is geared toward a.) infecting a viable cell, b.) hijacking that cell by inserting itself into the cell's genetic code, c.) evading/overwhelming the host immune response both intra- and extra- cellular, and d.) producing more viral particles with that cell. If you screw with the genes for "a", "b", or "c" it's not usable for anything at all because they can't even get started, so you disrupt the genes that are concerned with "d". That makes the virus capable of cellular infection, which you want, but prevents virus production, which you don't want, and it still delivers the gene therapy into the cells infected, which you do want.

      SO all that said, the scientists are "creating" something that nature very well might stumble upon tomorrow or 100 million years from now all on its own. If they don't work on it in the lab, then we'll have no defense, save those that nature provide. That may not be a bad thing, a 60% reduction in the world population might provide balance to a lot of our environmental problems.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Try and at least check the science before posting a (completely incorrect) refutation of it.

      December 23, 2011 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
  4. rick

    OK....lets create something without a cure, and capable of killing millions..........oh, and then lets tell every terror spreading malcontent about it in public forum!!! Just proves we need a SMARTER GENE pool!! WTH!!! Bring on another apocolypse......

    December 22, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josef Bleaux

      Exactly. The stupidity of the human race never ceases to amaze me.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Pretty much.

      December 22, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Making it and researching it in the lab now is better than having it in the lab after a similar strain has started killing. You have to make it to prepare for it.

      December 23, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
  5. Sumguy2006

    So nature hasn't made the Bird Flu deadly enough, so we have to figure out a way to help the process along....and then publish it so any nutjob can scheme to act on it? Yeah, that sounds fantastic.
    Why don't these clowns work on a reliable cure for current strains, before they mess around and end up wiping us out?

    December 22, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • plantvirolog

      The researchers are not clowns, they are hard working scientists looking out for the well being of us all. Know thy enemy. If we understand how the works, we are more able to devise ways to combat it.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
    • N

      Those nutjobs may scheme, but I doubt they can effectively act. Can you genetically engineer viruses? Do you have access to bird flu strains that you could start with? Do you have a lab in your garage?

      The only people likely to be able to use this information are people who already work in virology labs. And I'm willing to bet they could have done that easily without the article. It's common knowledge among infectious disease researchers what modifications would make bird flu more contagious. We've seen it before in other flus, and we'll see it again.

      December 23, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
  6. Knife of Ice

    Calm thyselves children. http://revolution-computing.typepad.com/.a/6a010534b1db25970b011570a87b91970b-500wi Read and learn. This is how things happen in the scientific community.

    December 22, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      Haha, That flowchart seems pretty logical to me

      December 22, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • BlueHawK

      Well done chart, too true 😎

      December 22, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  7. DeskTopApple

    Just keep this in mind, This It's a good way of keeping the world population under control. If the human race keep growing at the pace is going, Many will die of hunger Let nature take it's course.

    December 22, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      What a wonderful way of looking at this in a positive manner! Yes, the world is overpopulated–let's bring on the bird flu!

      December 22, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Yes, we need population control, but that's what wars are for.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • DeskTopApple

      I agree with you Josef 100%... But, only world war 3 can macht any of these viruses, Where millions will die and I dont think that will happen any sooner...Yet !

      December 22, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    Let's not be so quick to condemn the scientists here. They did not purposefully genetically engineer the virus to spread so easily. They were doing a routine experiment in studying virus evolution where they repeatedly allowed the virus to reproduce in ferrets to see how it would evolve. This is very much what happens to this virus as it reproduces and spreads in nature and when one selects for less and less pathogenic forms they can make a vaccine (see oral polio vaccine that has nearly been eradicated world-wide). They found a virus that had 5 mutations that spread easily and was highly pathogenic in ferrets, which are not necessarily a good predictor of what happens in humans (see the H1N1 scare that was overblown because ferrets are not a good predictor of pathology for humans).. We should want influenza researchers to have full access to this data so they can start working on antivirals (or vaccines). The scientific community legitimately needs access to thse data.

    December 22, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Brian

    So they are spending time and money killing ferrets with an engineered flu? I'm all for science, but this is POINTLESS.

    December 22, 2011 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      It is not at all pointless. We really don't have a good understanding of how viruses become lethal after long periods of being indifferent or benign. Gaining insights into that process will be extremely useful in developing treatments, perhaps even cures for viral diseases, and may also lead to a generalized approach to treating all such ailments.

      December 22, 2011 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      No, its not pointless, you're just clueless.

      December 22, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
  10. us1776

    These types of dangerous biological agents threaten national security.


    December 22, 2011 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      How would a shortage of ferrets affect national security? Or even an abundance of not well ferrets?

      December 22, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      SixDegrees, don't be stupid. You know damn well we're not talking ferrets here. Bird flu could easily kill millions of people.


      December 22, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Moran

      I grew up in a very emotionally and psyshologicly damaging home, complete with lots of secrets I wasn't supposed to tell anyone. Nothing I did was ever good enough I did ihave one parent who encouraged me–somewhat secretly since she abused him, too. She also abused my oldest brother–never, ever spoke to him just screamed and screamed at him. He ran away from home, finally, for many, many years after discovering our Dad wasn't our 'Dad'(one of the biggest secrets that I actually had known all along but never told anyone She told me one day when I was about 3 that I had been adopted because my Father didn't want me (abanndoned, too) and I should not be talking to my Dad or my brothers because they were her husband and her sons–not mine. My defense from it all was to just stay away as much as I could. I was busy with so many jobs from the age of 11 which was a good thing–they kept me away and I earned money However being told how worthless you are all your life and then being ecouraged to marry a man twice my age who was just as emotionally and psychologically abusive as she was–neither my mother or my husband had any sympathy, empathy, compassion, affection ever, etc. They both did whatever suited their own best interests and forget about me I discovered after I married that tthe only use he had for women was a physical one–in that relationship I was supposed to stay home with the kids and not talk about anything. He like my mother just ran me down and ran me down. After 3 years of counseling where I refused to talk about my relationship with my mother, not realizing how important that would have been I finally asked for a divorce. I had 3 very young children plus the expense, and time of raising them. He just took off for months at a time, traveling the world, sleeping with any and all women he encountered with my children with him. I told him so many times he should separate seeing the girlfriends–all much younger than he was and all on welfare It would take a book to tell my story but the the upshot of all the years of abuse was I didn't think I was woth anything but I did go on doing the very best I could at everything. Her response was to just get angried and angrier every time I succeeded at anything and, unfortunately, trying, as always, to please her I succeeded at everything I did. Looking back, I realize that though I had lots of friends, all from very wealthy families, I never really felt I could trust anyone and became as independant as I could be, never really trustung anyone. Finally she even convinced my kids that I'm worthless–I never dreamed in all the years I was always there for them that that would ever happen but it did. I never fought back–I was too worthless and just let it be.. I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had never met her. . .like I said, It would take a book.. .

      December 22, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Ferrets are not always a good predictor of influenza pathogenicity. The h1n1 (recent swine flu) strain was overhyped because it was so deadly in ferrets and it was not any more or less deadly in humans than the seasonal influenza strains circulating at the time. These data will be important in understanding how influenza viruses evolve and I would much rather have a large number of scientists have access to the information than to have it kept secret and have some terrorist hack into a computer

      December 22, 2011 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    food for though –> http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/

    December 22, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. x5431n

    Ok, so I'll ask the obvious question: Why in the hell was someone creating a new deadly virus in the first place?? How drunk did you have to get before this started to sound like a good idea??????

    December 22, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. JK

    For all those asking why they were even doing this research, the answer is simple: to be able to detect this virus once it acquires such mutations in the nature. Flu is constantly mutating with new strains emerging all the time. In fact, the individual mutations made by the research groups are already present in nature. So when the virus mutates enough (and it's a question of when, not if), we will be able to detect it. Now that we know we we're looking for, we can create a vaccine to this strain, so when this variant emerges, we will be prepared. For the alarmists in the group, there are much easier (and cheaper) ways of creating a bioweapon, than go though a labor intensive strategy of mutating the avian flu!

    December 22, 2011 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • plantvirolog

      Well put, JK

      December 22, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      I think the virologists they are well aware about the genetic code of the H5N1 variant which caused the 1918 epidemic killing 20 M humans. The new variant mentioned in this article is just another one of the large number of mutations that may cause bird flu to human populations. Saying that publishing this research will facilitate vaccine development does not make sense, a mutation of this virus in nature will not necessarily create the strain developed in these experiments.
      Since we do have the 1918 H5N1 genetic code to create vaccines the scientists can develop a vaccine for the 1918 variant and see how their techniques work.
      Even though I am all for the unobstructed publication of scientific research, I am worried that providing detailed information about the methods used to create these killer viruses is similar to disseminating detailed information on how to build a hand held nuclear device.
      There will always be individuals with a warped mind set who can use killer virus to kill or make sick as many people as it is possible.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • JK


      The 1918 pandemic was due to the H1N1 virus, not H5N1.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      You are right, thanks.

      December 22, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  14. JK

    Oh, and by the way, nowhere in this study does it say that this flu variant can infect humans. There are a number of mouse strains of flu that don't cause human disease, so the fact that they were able to infect ferrets doesn't mean that this virus will have the ability to cause any disease in people.

    December 22, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Nanook

    I was disturbed during the discussion between Sanjay and Fran Townson, a former Homeland security adviser, that neither he nor she seemed to have a clue about how the U.S. government controls confidential, secret and top secret information. I was also disturbed that experiments by federally funded labs don't already have a policy to control what they find. I visited a lab 20 years ago that was researching antibiotic resistant strains of plague and TB. The security was zero and the environmental protections totally haphazard. I was sure this would have been fixed by now.

    The point is, the U.S. already does have a simple system to control this. The research results are simply added to the list of restricted security information. The ability of scientists to get access to the information is maintained, but they have to get security clearances. It's not a 100% perfect system. But that's what is used for every other dangerous government program like nuclear weapons, missiles, and other military systems.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Marcus14006

    It is no longer possible to keep information "secret". Someday soon, this information will find its way into the wrong hands, and the entire planet will be at risk. Google reports the current world population as 6,840,507,000. If this information were to get into the wrong hands, and if the kill rate is 60%, this translates into a worldwide death toll of over FOUR BILLION people.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      This strain infects ferrets, not humans. What you don't mention is that mutations in influenza viruses happen in nature constantly...if anything is going to kill large numbers of people it is more likely to be generated by natural selection. The researchers have learned something about mutations that increase pathogenicity in ferrets (not humans), which allows scientists to already be working on antivirals prior to strains arising. As for making data accessible to terrorists, too late, smallpox, Bacillus anthracis, 1918 influenza, polio, Staphylococcus aureus, and others have been published for years, as has the instructions for making gunpowder and atomic bombs.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
  17. NeoSHNIK

    Is it dangerous? Not that bad – only 60% mortality – who cares? Publish it, you have my approval. Infect some people to see what happens. It would be a good scientific study!
    Osama Bin Laden and friends

    December 22, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cyclobrown

      as was aid of atomic weapons "made in America tested in ..........?"

      December 24, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  18. Cleeland


    December 22, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. boyamidumb

    In the name of science and discovery they will eventually kill us all.

    It is now if. It is simply when.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Boyurdumb...science must be evil...without science you would have died years ago from smallpox, polio, tetanus, measles, or most likely severe diarrhea from drinking unpurified water. You would not have a car or electricity and heaven forbid you would not have an Internet to display your ignorance ...yeah,science is evil...I sure miss the middle ages and time prior to the enlightenment when we could just blame God for everything and there was no such thing as free will.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • plantvirolog

      Well your screen name says quite a bit about you.... but let's not go there. Consider that infectious diseases were a severe threat to human life for centuries. Now because of "science and discovery" on dangerous pathogens (small pox, polio, and most bacterial infections) we have very effective ways to combat these diseases. Those evil scientists working on those diseases sure wronged you. Think about it the next time you need antibiotics. Think about how many childhood diseases are largely things of the past because the evil scientists studied them.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
  20. alphamale13

    Zombie Apacolypse ...Just in time for 2012

    December 22, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheNoirHero

      I was thinking the exact same thing... but ferrets spreading the "Z" virus to humans is kind of a weak start, lol

      December 22, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  21. soberSammy

    Enforcing the scientific community to abide by a code of ethics in regard to human life is impossible. Brilliant minds aren't always accompanied by moral clarity. When nature inevitably deals with the world's human population, as it always does, we must accept the fact that we really no more important than the slugs which crawl under rocks.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Saboth

    Whew. I was getting worried for a second. It seems every time I turn around, a vaccine for HIV, or some other disease is being discovered. Luckily, we have people working on things that can wipe out 95% of the human race, solving our food, overpopulation, global warming, and many other problems in one fell swoop.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Chris

    Wow, most people really don't understand what science is about based on the comments on this board! The scientists are trying to stay AHEAD of the virus, that is why they are producing different strains. The whole point is to produce the strains, and then figure out how to defeat them. That way we gain a better understanding of how to cure any naturally mutating strains that might occur in real life. The alternative is to sit around on our thumbs, waiting for the virus to mutate, and then scramble to figure out afterwards how to stop it, by which time lots of people will have died.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • plantvirolog


      December 22, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      Until something goes horribly wrong and it gets out in the real world.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      2tired2care. Any scientific knowledge or research can be dangerous. That doesn't mean you stop doing so altogether. Worry about getting hit by a bus. Not a global flu pandemic.

      December 23, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  24. AhhPures

    Why are they making this stuff? They should be tried as criminals for producing it just like a meth manufacturer is prosecuted.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      The scientists were studying viral evolution with the hope of being one step ahead of the virus in nature so we can respond more intelligently when dangerous strains arise through natural selection, which based on history, is likely to happen. Your ascertation that the scientists are criminals is misguided and is frankly insulting to a field of workers who risk their lives to improve the health and well being of humanity.

      December 22, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  25. Juan Torres

    to marcus.: this is information is already in the wrong hands, the United States. aids was created by american scientist then blamed on monkeys. also JFK and RFK were done in by the cia. A quote by david morales cia. david was done in by the cia for blabbing this.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • plantvirolog

      evidence in support of these wild claims?

      December 22, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      Hey, can I borrow your tinfoil hat?

      December 22, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Everything is a conspiracy! If you believe the AIDS story here is a new conspiracy theory I have for you... Did you know the anti-vaccination movement was created by scientists who want to control the evolution of humans by encouraging the gullible pooly educated people who make decisions based on feelings rather than empirical data to not vaccinate their children so that their genes are removed from the gene pool when their children die of diseases that are easily prevented with a simple shot. It's true, just like the AIDS conspiracy! And if you believe that I have some smelling salts to sell you that will prevent the miasmas from killing you.

      December 22, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
  26. Janet Scyrkels

    Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should....why are you cultivating these bugs in a lab ?????

    December 22, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tomas

    Let's get the math straight guys. With 7 billion people on earth and a 60% mortality rate that is way more than millions.
    Assuming a 25% infection rate of humans, that leaves us with just over a billion dead people. Yup. A billion.
    Time to go buy more duct tape and plastic sheeting.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Chris

    So how long until our buddy Captain Tripps here gets set loose on the world?

    C'mon Randall, don't keep us waiting now!

    December 22, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Baby, can you dig your man?

      December 22, 2011 at 15:50 | Report abuse |
  29. J Mc

    How can this be new? The CDC had an article on this three years, I did a research topic on it in my Public Health class in college. It was prevelent in chickens in the southern part of the US and at the time was uncurable. How does this get over looked. Americas is getting so pathetic that they are not accountable for anything.

    December 22, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. MC in TX

    I agree with the general notion of properly controlling information about dangerous research without full censorship, but I think there is a larger issue this brings up which is continually ignored by scientists and governments. The reality is that these technologies that we are worried about, whether they be potential biological weapons, nuclear weapons, or chemical weapons, are gradually becoming easier for the general public to get their hands on. Any efforts to keep these technologies out of the hands of terrorists are, at best a stall (perhaps a stall than can last for years or decades, but not forever). Society is entirely focused on how to keep these things out of the hands of terrorists but that singular focus is misguided. Consider the fact that only 100 years ago it would have been impossible to imagine somebody pulling off something like the Sept 11 or even the Oklahoma City bombing. The average person had no realistic means to get their hands on anything that destructive. As technology progresses, it becomes increasingly impractical to keep dangerous technologies out of the hands of the general public.

    We must start dealing with the reality that a future is coming where anybody who wants to can do very dangerous things. Our perspective on society must change to one where we address the motives of individuals who might do us harm rather than focusing on the means by which they might do it.

    December 22, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cheetahe

      MC very well said.
      The big problem is how can we keep the technologies that have the potential to cause unimaginable damage to the society from the reach of dangerous individuals.
      As you do say people who are technically capable but mentally disturbed or ideologically motivated can kill millions of people.
      I do not doubt that we can devise defensive methods to limit the destructiveness of these technologies when they move outside the confines of the laboratories but it will take time and a large effort by the responsible scientists

      December 22, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  31. DeskTopApple

    Remember AID'S ? It's a man made virus to control the world human population and how about cancers?Does it sound familiar to you?

    December 22, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DeskTopApple

      It's a humane way of killing million of people's and not getting blame.

      December 22, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • DeskTopApple

      If we all think about it it happens to the animal's in the wild, when they are out of control. they get sick and die.

      December 22, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • DeskTopApple

      I guest millions of people can die this way and we can;t not blame anynobody else but mother nature.

      December 22, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • DeskTopApple

      By the way , It's only my opinion on this blog not blamming anyone out there....thanks/

      December 22, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  32. Burbank

    I find it amazing that the arrogant "geniuses" that created this would even consider for a millisecond publishing this information so the terroists of the world could see it. Still another case of smart without wisdom and blindness caused by arrogance. Scary! Very, very scary! What other abominations are they working on???

    December 22, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Dr. Nazi

    It's too late for you pathetic subhumans. We will exterminate most of the world's population and eugenically engineer beutiful aryan children. No more retarded, obese, ugly brown people.

    December 22, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RAR

    I hope someone by the name of mohammed does not get hold of it.

    December 23, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RAR

    Who ordered this work done?? I think it was a criminal act.

    December 23, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Bill

    I agree why is someone allowed to make this stuff.

    December 23, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      Jesses are the long straps that are taeachtd to a leash when the birds are taken out for exercise or hunting. Bewits are what the bells are taeachtd with.You must be licensed to own, keep, posess, fly a bird of prey. To obtain a license you must have been apprenticed to a Master Falconer/Austringer and pass a test at the end of the apprenticeship.Belling a bird of prey is how they are located while hunting or flying free.Birds don't chew, they have no teeth. The beak is designed for piercing, pulling and tearing. Food is swallowed whole and chewed' in the crop. Sometimes a bird can peck through the jesses or the bewits. A good falconer/austringer will be well aware of his/her bird's condition and health.

      March 5, 2012 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
  37. guesswho22

    How can non-sanctioned researchers even create a deadly flu virus weapon of mass destruction without being arrested for terrorism? And they want it published? If you're super smart or super wealthy, you can get away with just about anything. The TSA will arrest a grandmother in an airport security checkpoint for having the wrong kind of panties on...

    December 23, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. VivaMexico

    You stupid fawking idiots! People of different races are all human! If you infect one race, all other races will be affected as well.

    December 23, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply


    December 24, 2011 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Phillip Minton M.D.

    This kind of research gives us the chance to develop vaccines in advance of epidemics. If scientists can predict which flu virus mutations are the most likely, or would be the most deadly, then vaccines could be developed in advance of the strains ever coming to the fore, to be ready for use when required. P Minton MD

    December 25, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lord

      oh ok, but like, that makes no sense. Cheers.

      you wanna mix bird flu with ebola now and see how to find an antivirus as well?

      December 25, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse |
  41. Mr. Dick Turpin

    I would consider this so-called "threatening" information already publicly available, regardless of how many stop-gaps anyone, including the U.S. government, attempts to put into place.

    However, there's nothing much to worry about from a national security perspective, in my opinion. Even if a so-called terrorist were in possession of the genome of these new highly infectious strains, he/she would face the large, perhaps insurmountable task of outfitting a lab and developing the expertise to grow the strains and then, beyond that, weaponize them. This would take many years in the Middle East, which is notoriously backwards when it comes to molecular biology and biochemistry. (By the way, I'm a trained scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry.)

    Of course, that leaves open the possibility that a terrorist could "hire" expertise from a Western university – or that a Western terrorist in a Western lab might make the strains themselves. Or that ... hundreds more potential scenarios you can worry about (if you have nothing better to do than imagine nightmares). But the bottom line is this information cannot be "hidden" away. It's too late. (However, had the strains been developed in Fort Detrick, for example, we might never have learned about them. So think about that.)

    Mr. Dick Turpin

    December 27, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Odoy

    A few additions: As soon as the media riscoveds the link between swine flu and the great pandemic of 1918, we will in all likelyhood see more of the killer flu language, whatever the actual numbers.What has been most puzzling for experts so far are the stark differences between what we have been seeing in Mexico in comparison to the US, in terms of cases, mortality, and transmission. As always with the flu, you never really know what is going to happen next. The virus might just as well suddenly disappear again. At this point, this scenario seems unlikely, of course, but you never know.

    March 3, 2012 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sergeyl Preuetti

    I am cheerful to see this you tube video at this site, therefore right now I am also going to add all my video tutorials at YouTube web page.

    July 30, 2012 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.