Is Research Contributing to a Potential Pandemic?
the MPR take:
Two recent studies on the creation of ferret-transmissible influenza A/H5N1 viruses have stirred up controversy regarding the potential for these pathogens to be accidentally or deliberately released from the laboratory. In fact, the H1N1 virus was dormant for 20 years until in 1977 it re-emerged, likely from a lab accident. In a commentary in the journal PLOS One, Marc Lipsitch, PhD, and Alison P. Galvani, PhD, argue that laboratory-related infections in biosafety levels (BLS) 3 or 3+ labs occur at a rate of 2 per 1,000 laboratory years in the U.S. but vary globally. 10 BLS3 labs would have an almost 20% risk of at least one laboratory-acquired infection over a decade, with a probability of a widespread influenza infection from a laboratory at 10%. The authors urge researchers to evaluate their future experiments based carefully on risk-benefit analysis and the Nuremberg Code (undertake experiments that could pose a risk to human life only if the humanitarian benefits outweigh the risks and are not achieved through safer means).
The new strain was genetically similar to one from the 1950s, almost as though it had been sitting frozen in a lab since then. But now, two scientists are arguing that it's not worth continuing to create new, transmissible versions of deadly viruses in labs because the risk that the diseases will escape and infect the public is too great.
READ FULL ARTICLE From The Atlantic