World vigilant after Dutch lab mutates killer virus

World health ministers said Friday they were being vigilant after a Dutch laboratory developed a mutant version of the deadly bird flu virus that is for the first time contagious among humans.

"We need to be very vigilant. This is something that we talked about a lot this morning," French Xavier Bertrand said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) in Paris.

The GHSI comprises the G7 group of industrialised nations along with Mexico, the European Union's Commission and the (WHO).

A research team led by Ron Fouchier at Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Centre said in September it had created a mutant version of the H5N1 that could for the first time be spread among mammals.

The H5N1 strain of is fatal in 60 percent of human cases but only 350 people have so far died from the disease largely because it cannot, yet, be transmitted between humans.

The announcement led to fears the mutant could find its way into nature or that the publication of the research on how the virus was mutated could be used by terrorists.

EU Health Commissioner John Dalli told journalists he had received assurances from Dutch authorities that the virus was secure.

"The Dutch authorities confirmed that the virus itself is stored in a very secured way and that the necessary permits were given and that the researchers are bound by a code of conduct," Dalli said.

"One of the issues ... is to ensure that any information coming from this research is well controlled and without sensitive details about mutation being given," he said.

Fouchier said in a statement his team had discovered that transmission of the virus was possible between humans "and can be carried out more easily than we thought."

"In a laboratory, it was possible to change the H5N1 into a virus ... that can easily be spread through the air. This process (mutation) could also happen naturally," Fouchier said.

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gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
I sure hope they develop a vaccine against it before any terrorists either get a copy, or some other terrorists have something similar.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2011
This case just helps to draw the decadent picture of contemporary science. This science ignores the cold fusion and another fundamental findings, it censors the uncomfortable ideas and it doesn't help the civilization with understanding of reality or with solution of its problems. It threatens it instead with expensive, useless and dangerous LHC and virus experiments. Apparently, the current wave of social revolutions needs to be expanded into area of science too. We should put the question, what the contemporary scientists are actually payed for and whether the society has a control over their activities at all.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2011
Some people argue, it has no meaning to prohibit the scientists in their non ethical research, as the dangerous technologies and findings would be revealed anyway later. Personally I disagree, we are in battle with time in this matter. The public control, moral level and responsibility of human civilization is improving gradually and many technologies which were subject of market of various terrorist groups in the past are already prohibited by now. If we can ban the spreading of Nazi ideas, the stem cells or nuclear research in some areas, we should be able to punish all the attempts for dangerous genetic experiments, because they posit the same threat for humanity. Actually these experiments are threatening the public safety more, than the various homemade experiments with nuclear bombs and similar stuffs, which are outlawed by now.
BIG COCK
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
This case just helps to draw the decadent picture of contemporary science. This science ignores the cold fusion and another fundamental findings, it censors the uncomfortable ideas and it doesn't help the civilization with understanding of reality or with solution of its problems. It threatens it instead with expensive, useless and dangerous LHC and virus experiments. Apparently, the current wave of social revolutions needs to be expanded into area of science too. We should put the question, what the contemporary scientists are actually payed for and whether the society has a control over their activities at all.


Hi, I'm an evil scientist. I'm going to make sure that when we take over the world, you will be punished.
Sincerely,
An Evil Scientist
Shakescene21
not rated yet Dec 10, 2011
"...the necessary permits were given and that the researchers are bound by a code of conduct," Dalli said."

I'm sure glad the researchers are bound by a code of conduct. Otherwise I might be worried.
Nanobanano
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
Callipo:

You realize this is probably one of the most important branches of science?

the vaccine is easily one of the top 2 or 3 discoveries and inventions of all time.

A 60% fatality rate?

You realize how many people a human-to-human, airborne H5N1 strain would kill? Try 2 to 4 billion. Within a couple years. It would be like a Biblical plague or something. It would make the Black Death look like a joke probably.

They probably got the right idea to try to breed it and make a vaccine or a weakened strain ahead of time. Maybe "innoculate" everybody, before the real strain happens in nature.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
Thanks a LOT, fellas and gals over there in windmill water pumpin country. When you finish painting your 'mills blue, consider the faces of your citizens WHEN they catch this monster you created in the lab. Cold and blue and dead! ALL of them! This points out that we need an off planet 'hot lab' to do research like this if we have to. The price of failure is just too high, like maybe some research to be done in the LHC 'black hole' lab. Games theory says that the price that we pay to play a game should not be higher than the expected rewards of the game, and this is ONE DEADLY GAME INDEED! The research cost is astronomical and the prize is the DEATH of ALL of us that do not have at gene that saved many from the Black Death! Now we have provided terrorists with a road map to do it by bragging about how 'simple' it was. As well as suicide terrorists, how about the suidide scientist terrorists? Or just terroristic scientists like that Pakistani nuke doctor now a Pakistani 'hero'!

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