Genetically altered H5N1 strain can spread between mammals
A highly contagious mutant strain of H5N1 bird flu that can be transmitted between mammals has been deliberately created at Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Centre, the London Independent reports.
Now plans to publish details of how the deadly virus was created in the lab are being castigated by government officials and health experts.
The findings were scheduled to be published in the US journal Science, however, officials at the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity have demanded that they be allowed to screen the details first.
“The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine,” an anonymous senior US government advisor told the Independent.
“The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive.”
In comments to The London Telegraph, EU Health Commissioner John Dalli said that the Dutch government has assured him the virus is being kept 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,” Mr 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 added.
The ultimate fear is that the virus could escape the lab, or be recreated somewhere else for nefarious purposes, such as a deadly bioweapon.
H5N1 bird flu has proven fatal in 60 per cent of human cases. However, only a small amount of people have died from the disease because it has not yet been transmitted between humans.
Ron Fouchier, the virologist who led the research team that created the mutant flu strain, said that the study had concluded that transmission of the H5N1 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.
Conceding that it is “probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make”, Fouchier has said that his work is “really, really stupid,” but ultimately useful for the development of vaccines.
In 2009, Infowars reported extensively on the fact that vaccines contaminated with the deadly avian flu virus were distributed to 18 countries by the American Pharmaceutical company Baxter.
Baxter mixed the deadly H5N1 virus with a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses. The H5N1 virus on its own is less airborne and more restricted in the ease with which it can spread. However, when combined with seasonal flu viruses, which are super-airborne and easily spread, the effect is a potent, super-airbone, super deadly biological weapon.
While some dismissed the incident as criminal negligence, others contended it may have been part of a conspiracy to provoke a pandemic.