Oct
07
2005

What do you think?

What are your thoughts about the reconstruction of the 1918 flu virus?

  • Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, has serious concerns and believes "there is a risk verging on inevitability, of accidental release of the virus; there is also a risk of deliberate release of the virus."
  • Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (which helped pay for the reconstruction work), says that the board "voted unanimously that the benefits outweighed the risk that it would be used in a nefarious manner."

What do YOU think?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

Given that most flu viruses today are "descendants" of the 1918 flu, people today have at least some immunity to that strain, so the likelihood of a pandemic arising from a release (accidental or otherwise) of the 1918 virus is not very serious. Further, given all the viruses the CDC has dealt with over the years--many of which are considerably more dangerous than the 1918 flu--I would suggest that there couldn't be a safer place to do this research.

posted on Wed, 10/19/2005 - 1:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I don't believe that's true, exactly. You don't know for certain that all people have developed an immunity to the bird flu, and it's dangerous to just assume that this disease, while it may seem harmless, won't mutate to be something that's very deadly.

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 9:55am
Maddie's picture
Maddie says:

You are probably right, most humans have probably gathered about them some immunity, but it has killed, and it was gone so why bring it back? It was gone before, and when I say gone I mean gone. The world could have gotten by without another deadly diease.

posted on Mon, 01/16/2006 - 3:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yes i do believe that it was correct to recreate the virus so that we could study it and make a vaccine for it.

posted on Sat, 05/20/2006 - 2:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yes i do believe that it was correct to recreate the virus so that we could study it and make a vaccine for it.

posted on Sat, 05/20/2006 - 2:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Why did you release it in the first place?

posted on Sat, 05/06/2006 - 2:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

No one released the virus. The question is purely hypothetical.

posted on Sat, 05/06/2006 - 3:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The hypothesis of the molecule atom is simply a filed database of some sort that should proclaim the analysis of the solution to the simple re worked equation, that my friend is the answer.

posted on Wed, 06/14/2006 - 1:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Joe wasn't suggesting that all or most humans have immunity to the H5N1 avian flu. The original post was about the recreation, in a lab, of the 1918 flu virus--a HUMAN influenza virus. (It shows similarities to avian viruses, which is one reason that scientists are concerned about the spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. And this is where you and I and many of the world's epidemiologists and disaster planners agree: the fact the avian flu doesn't seem to be spreading from person to person now is no reason to assume that it won't mutate into a virus that can cause a serious human pandemic.)

Joe was just reminding us all that most strains of human influenza that have circulated since 1918 are descended from that virus, and so many people will have SOME level of immunity to the disease, should it escape from the lab.

His other point was that it was recreated in the CDC's Level 3 biosafety lab, where scientists work to understand and find cures for all sorts of deadly microbes, and containment is a huge priority.

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 10:19am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease control classified 1918 flu virus as a "select agent." Select agents--which include Ebola virus, smallpox virus, botulinum toxin, and plague bacteria, among other scary things--are considered "potentially dangerous" and access to them is controlled.

A CDC statement said:

"The virus was reconstructed to aid public health officials in preparing for the possibility of another pandemic of influenza. It will also be helpful to biomedical scientists as they seek to understand what made the virus so harmful and to develop better antiviral drugs and influenza vaccines."

Still, researchers who want to work with the 1918 flu virus will now have to register with the CDC, account for their samples, and agree to restrictions designed to protect the public.

posted on Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:31pm
Troy's picture
Troy says:

what if terroists were to somehow get a hold of the information
and recreate the virus themselves? basically the question is, have we created a biological weappon and perhaps one of the deadliest?

posted on Thu, 10/27/2005 - 9:58pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

The risk of terrorists getting a hold of the information on the 1918 flu is minimal. As stated earlier, most everyone alive today has some immunity to the 1918 strain of the virus as most cases of influenza today are descendants of this strain. So it wouldn't be a very effective weapon. Plus, the virus is being kept in a level 3 biosafety lab at the CDC - the same place they conduct tests and research on several potentially more dangerous viruses. So, we are not in any more danger than we were before the strain was recreated.

posted on Fri, 10/28/2005 - 9:29am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Actually, the information is on the web, available free to anyone with a modem. It took me about five minutes to find it.

Now, it's a long and complicated process from raw code to creating a virus. It's not like a terrorist can cook something up in his kitchen this weekend. And, as previous posts have indicated, people today have immunity, and sanitary conditions are much improved, so an outbreak would not be nearly as much of a disaster today as it was in 1918.

Still, putting the recipe for killer flu on the web for all to see seems like a pretty dumb move to me. (Here's an this article by scientist Ray Kurzweil who agrees this was a mistake.)

posted on Fri, 10/28/2005 - 12:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Although terrorists may not be able to " cook this in their kitchen", terrorists go to high extents just to kill other people. Also, even though some people have immunity to this virus recreating the virus is a fatal move and could bring about a pandemic.

posted on Tue, 12/27/2005 - 1:15pm
Maddie's picture
Maddie says:

perhaps we have. Maybe we brought ot light one of the world newiest and deadliest weapons, so if you think about it, why did we recreate the virus in the first place? But really, wouldn't they have done that in the past except with some other deadly toxin

posted on Mon, 01/16/2006 - 3:05pm
timothy's picture
timothy says:

i aggre terroristes may get their hands on the stuff and if they do it will be troble for us because they can use it aganist us

posted on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 12:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Why are we discussing terrorism? This is about microbiology.

posted on Fri, 02/17/2006 - 5:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Because terrorists can use microbiology to kill people.

posted on Thu, 02/23/2006 - 7:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think the best way an individual can possibly ward off illness is by living and eating "right". Dealing with stress appropriately, eating foods that are not proessed, and an active prayer life is vital. Living well does not mean financially, but according to how best our body will be maintained. Physically, mentally and spiritually all in equal balance.

posted on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:56pm
Maddie's picture
Maddie says:

True that really does help when you are trying to ward off a virus, but something of this magnitude acn probably not be fought of with pure health. People who are very healthy can and do still get sick, and that is with normal virus's and bugs, this is a horse of a different color.

posted on Mon, 01/16/2006 - 3:09pm
Maddie's picture
Maddie says:

On the thought of terrorists I really don't thinkt that they will reacreate the the virus, if they wan't to do something like that they could have done it years ago, only the would have used some other virus. Do I think that we shoulf have recraeted the virus in the first place? No! It was done and gone once, we should we have to bring it back? All we managed to do was get another deadly virus out into the world. I mean, what do you think?

posted on Mon, 01/16/2006 - 3:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

no, it wasn't right

posted on Sat, 01/21/2006 - 5:53pm
sabrina's picture
sabrina says:

no i didnt think it was right to do what ever your talking about

posted on Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:56pm
lulu's picture
lulu says:

technically you could not recreate the influenza pandemic of 1918, because for one thing the actual name of the influenza virus was the pig flu, and for another thing in case you haven't noticed the pig and birds are completely diffrent animal famlies.

posted on Fri, 02/10/2006 - 4:06pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Lots of older materials still say that the 1918 influenza virus was a swine flu, but the recent genetic analysis suggests that it was, in fact, an avian flu that made a jump directly from birds to people.

Birds, both wild and domestic, are a natural reservoir for influenza viruses. Sometimes a virus circulates without causing much illness at all, and sometimes an influenza virus causes deaths. But there are always influenza viruses circulating in bird populations.

Sometimes, though an influenza virus jumps species.

Pigs can get the flu: avian flu, swine flu, or human flu. If a pig is infected with two kind of influenza at the same time, the viruses can share genetic material. And people may not have immunity to the new virus.

There are cases, too, of influenza viruses jumping straight from birds to people (which is what the H5N1 virus seems to be doing).

The part that concerns scientists is this: if the virus jumps species, and we don't have any natural immunity to the new virus, then a pandemic is a real possibility.

Here's what the Center for Disease Control has to say on the subject:

"Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals. Most influenza viruses cause asymptomatic or mild infection in birds; however, the range of symptoms in birds varies greatly depending on the strain of virus. Infection with certain avian influenza A viruses (for example, some strains of H5 and H7 viruses) can cause widespread disease and death among some species of wild and especially domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.

Pigs can be infected with both human and avian influenza viruses in addition to swine influenza viruses. Infected pigs get symptoms similar to humans, such as cough, fever, and runny nose. Because pigs are susceptible to avian, human and swine influenza viruses, they potentially may be infected with influenza viruses from different species (e.g., ducks and humans) at the same time. If this happens, it is possible for the genes of these viruses to mix and create a new virus. For example, if a pig were infected with a human influenza virus and an avian influenza virus at the same time, the viruses could mix (reassort) and produce a new virus that had most of the genes from the human virus, but a hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase from the avian virus. The resulting new virus would likely be able to infect humans and spread from person to person, but it would have surface proteins (hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase) not previously seen in influenza viruses that infect humans. This type of major change in the influenza A viruses is known as antigenic shift. Antigenic shift results when a new influenza A subtype to which most people have little or no immune protection infects humans. If this new virus causes illness in people and can be transmitted easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic can occur.

While it is unusual for people to get influenza infections directly from animals, sporadic human infections and outbreaks caused by certain avian influenza A viruses have been reported."

posted on Mon, 02/13/2006 - 3:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

H5N1 is killing pigs\r\n

posted on Tue, 03/07/2006 - 4:35am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I did find references to pigs infected with the H5N1 virus, mostly from 2004, but no mention of any pig deaths.

August 25, 2004 story from The Taipei Times: "Bird flu in pigs no epidemic"

April 14, 2005 story from New Scientist: "Bird flu identified in Indonesian pigs"

posted on Wed, 03/29/2006 - 1:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that it is fine to recreate the 1918 influenza virus in order to find protections for the bird flu. The disease is carefully protected and most people have major immunity to the disease since most flu viruses descend from this one. I do not think there is any risk of a new pandemic of the 1918 flu.

posted on Fri, 03/31/2006 - 8:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I don't think scientists should have reconstructed the 1918 flu! That wasn't such a smooth move! - FHSTigers20132020\r\n

posted on Sun, 04/02/2006 - 3:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that it was completely right to recreate the 1918 flu in order to study for its cure. You never know when diseases like this could pop up, causing a pandemic. If we are prepared for these possible pandemics by having a medicine that will either reduce the effects or completely omit them, we will be a better world.

posted on Sun, 04/09/2006 - 1:52pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yes. Mice infected with the reconstructed 1918 flu virus experience "an overblown inflammatory response" that can cause serious lung damage and death.

Scary news, yes, but it also offers a new avenue for research: if scientist can target the patient's immune response to the virus, as well as the virus itself, they'll have two weapons against pandemic flu.

posted on Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

kill all the birds

posted on Fri, 04/07/2006 - 8:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

"there is a risk verging on inevitability, of accidental release of the virus; there is also a risk of deliberate release of the virus."
Given the known history of the human race both of the above comments are extremely plausible.

Also given the known history of detrimental organisms to mutate and become insensitive to antibiotics recreating the 1918 flu is pretty damn lame.

Mere deduction my dear Watson.

posted on Mon, 05/01/2006 - 11:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I do think it is a good idea because now we have medicine and other technology to help us prevent it. Docotors have computers, palm pioltes to tell how much medicine a day for us to take.

posted on Sat, 05/20/2006 - 3:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is very helpful to me thank you

posted on Thu, 05/18/2006 - 10:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think it is a very bad idea. It could spread amoung people and that would be very bad!!!

posted on Thu, 06/08/2006 - 5:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that it was a good thing to do. Now they can study it and the recreation is harmless.Hopefully it will help alot

posted on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 1:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I thought it was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Tue, 06/27/2006 - 3:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think that playing with nature and god's will is totally wrong. people wonder why the world has somany problems....

posted on Tue, 07/04/2006 - 3:54pm
Roderick Munch's picture
Roderick Munch says:

I'm down with anything that can stop the bird flu YEHA

posted on Tue, 07/04/2006 - 6:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

No i don't think iits true thats just a bunch of you know what. people dont just do that it would take years and years.

posted on Tue, 07/11/2006 - 7:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The bird flu could be the greatest catastrophe of our time.

posted on Sun, 07/16/2006 - 5:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It is a catastrophe we have allowed this to happen. It can be considered a breach of national security!!! I can see a reason to develop this for scientific study, but it is too risky for terrorism.

posted on Mon, 07/17/2006 - 7:39pm
Emily S's picture
Emily S says:

Why did you release it in the first place? Now it will turn into a catatrophe.

posted on Wed, 07/19/2006 - 2:50pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The reconstructed 1918 flu has NOT been released. It exists only in a secure laboratory.

posted on Wed, 07/19/2006 - 3:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It's not really right to do that because those are serios illnesses..i cant really type onhere..

posted on Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I agree with "i don't believe that's true". We should not be so self assured. No one knows what may happen. We are not in control of what is happening in this world, so watch out.

posted on Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:46am
barb kIein's picture
barb kIein says:

It does seem rather foolhardy to risk the virus becoming active again. Why can't they do the research on the viruses that are descendants of that one? I worry they may open Pandora's box of troubles

posted on Wed, 08/09/2006 - 2:50pm
Tom's picture
Tom says:

Does anyone think that the played up danger of this virus could come from a government psy-op? A population at fear is a population that you can control. anyways, why 'destroy' this disease, do you not realize that life finds a way, if it goes away it will go away, life will take its course, let it be.

posted on Wed, 08/09/2006 - 7:36pm
KMH's picture
KMH says:

If you reconstruct the virus there will be someone who will sell the virus for biological warfare. Are we willing to risk that and put people's lives at risk?

posted on Sun, 08/13/2006 - 5:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There is an equal chance that another virus will evolve into a highly pathogenic disease before avian flu mutates into a deadly human pathogen.

posted on Wed, 08/16/2006 - 6:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'm sure it's already out there anyways. Just like the plague - you do know people get the plague fairly regularly - right? There are several cases annually in NM alone. Along with hanta virus and a myriad of other "terrible" diseases. Supposedly polio is extinct, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it's return. Viruses and bacteria have been on this planet far, far longer than we have - they're wired to survive.

posted on Mon, 08/21/2006 - 5:19pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Polio is not extinct, although many global agencies are working to eventually make it so. (In fact, there were cases of polio right here in Minnesota just this year, although it's not the fearsome scourge it once was.) Perhaps you were thinking of smallpox?

But you do bring up an interesting point: all of these diseases--avian flu, bubonic plague, hanta virus--are diseases of ecology. They crop up where humans and animals share living space, one way or another, and share microbes. And as human populations grow, and our needs bring us into closer contact (and conflict) with more animal species, we'll likely see more emerging infectious diseases.

Polio, though, doesn't fall into that category. It's a highly contagious human disease with no animal reservoir.

(Some scientists think it may be impossible to completely eliminate diseases with animal reservoirs without eliminating the animals, but others disagree.)

posted on Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:44pm
Tanning Lotion's picture

To me it doesn't make since to create a deadly virus for any reason. It just is not worth it.

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 1:17am
Darkness1000's picture
Darkness1000 says:

This is one of those things that are what-ifs. If the disease did get out, it could be catastrophic. However, if it's contained and studied, it could be extraordinarily beneficial. You can't just go around assumingthat it will be bad or good: It could be both.

posted on Thu, 04/08/2010 - 1:28pm

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