Home > Environment, Government, Health, The Politics of War, World of the Strange – Weird Science > Leading scientists urge President Obama’s advisers to investigate ethical issues raised by creating highly infectious strain of bird-flu.

Leading scientists urge President Obama’s advisers to investigate ethical issues raised by creating highly infectious strain of bird-flu.

By Steve Connor 1st April 2013.    Find Full Article Here:-

Virus could easily be transmitted between people.

A group of leading scientists has urged President Obama’s advisers to investigate the ethical issues raised by a decision to create a highly infectious strain of bird-flu virus that could be transmitted easily between people.

The scientists, who include a former UK Government chief scientist and a Nobel laureate, said that it is “morally and ethically wrong” to create a new type of influenza virus in the laboratory that is more lethal and transmissible than what actually exists in nature.

Two teams of flu researchers – led by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison – announced in 2011 that they had succeeded in mutating the H5N1 avian virus so that it could in theory be transmitted through the air between people.

They stopped the research last year as part of a wider voluntary moratorium following public outrage over the work. But they announced an end to the moratorium earlier this year, and even an expansion into new areas involving other viruses and diseases.

In a strongly-worded letter sent to the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, opponents of the research warned that there has not been enough debate over the threats posed by lifting the moratorium on increasing the transmissibility of highly lethal viruses such as the H5N1 strain of bird-flu.

They said that the 60 per cent mortality rate of the H5N1 virus – on the relatively rare occasions that it has infected humans – puts it in a “class of its own” and that attempting to make it more transmissible through laboratory experiments is tantamount to risking a devastatingly deadly flu pandemic.

“The accidental release of an artificial, laboratory-generated, human-transmissible H5N1 virus into the community has the potential to cause a global pandemic of epic proportions that would dwarf the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed over 50 million people,” the scientists said.

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