'Anthrax isn't scary at all compared to this': Man-made flu virus with potential to wipe out many millions if it ever escaped is created in research lab

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 3:36 PM on 28th November 2011

  • Scientist responsible is bracing himself for a media storm
  • Just five tweaks to H5N1 makes it more contagious
  • Contagious version of bird flu could cause pandemic
  • Scientists divided over whether findings can be released

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilisation.

The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain, but is far more infectious and could pass easily between millions of people at a time.

The research has caused a storm of controversy and divided scientists, with some saying it should never have been carried out.

Deadly: The new strain could wipe out millions of people at a time

Deadly: The new strain of bird flu could wipe out millions of people at a time

The current strain of H5N1 has only killed 500 people and is not contagious enough to cause a global pandemic.

But their are fears the modified virus is so dangerous it could be used for bio-warfare, if it falls into the wrong hands.

Virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands lead a team of scientists who discovered that a mere five mutations to the avian virus was sufficient to make it spread far more easily.

He conducted his tests on ferrets as the animals have become a model of choice for influenza and have similar respiratory tracts to humans.

Fouchier is so prepared for a media storm that he has hired an advisor to help him work on a communication strategy.

The research done was part of an international drive to understand H5N1 more fully.

Fouchier admitted the strain is 'one of the most dangerous viruses you can make' but is still adamant he wants to publish a paper describing how it was done.

The study is one of two which has caused serious debate about scientific freedom and about regulating research which might have potential public health benefits but at the same time could also be useful for bio-terrorism.

The other paper, also on H5N1, was done by a joint team at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo.

It is understood to have had comparable results to the study done by Fouchier.

Dangerous: It is feared if new details of the avian flu is published, it could be used for bioterrorism

Dangerous: It is feared if new details of the avian flu is published, it could be used for bioterrorism

Both papers are now being reviewed by the U.S National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB).

NSABB does not have the power to prevent the publication but it could ask journals not to publish.

Paul Keim, chairman of NSABB, said: 'I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one. I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this.'

Traditionally scientific research has always been open so that fellow scientists can review the work of others and repeat their methods to try and learn from them.

But numerous scientists have said they believe research on the avian flu should be suppressed.

However bio-defense and flu expert Michael Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of innesota, said the work carried out was important medically.

He added he could not discuss the papers because he was a member of NSABB but said if they were published certain information could be withheld and made available to those who really need to know.

'We don't want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad,' he said.


Here's what other readers have said. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.

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Why am I not surprised. Do you think HIV occur naturally. If HIV did occur naturally there would have been a cure/vaccine for it. It is just against nature, for a virus and or disease to have no cure. We manage to eradicate the smallpox virus. These viruses were created just for the sole purpose of population control in the absence of a war or worldwide disaster.

Click to rate     Rating   2

You guys, it's just a flu. keep your immune system up and you'll be fine. I got the swine flu when it was going around, this is just the same but more likely to catch it. I can see it putting the entire human race in bed for a week, not wiping it out.

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We all saw this about 4 years ago when there was news about scientists digging up body remains in Alaska of people who died from the Spanish Flu epidemic around the turn of the 20th Century.

Click to rate     Rating   5

Get out of the cities, go and live deep in the forests a long long way away, do it now!

Click to rate     Rating   7

Hmmm, sounds like a familiar novel..... 'The Stand' By Stephen King....ill read up on it, then I might know what to do....

Click to rate     Rating   6

And the point of creating this was .......????

Click to rate     Rating   9

Is this scientist insane? Why did he create this? It's not like the atomic bomb that can only nuke one city per bomb - if this disease escapes somehow, it could wipe out the entire human race!

Click to rate     Rating   14

Let's hope the laboratory can withstand earthquakes and nuclear blasts - and has incredible security. Still don't understand why someone so clever would do something so stupid.

Click to rate     Rating   13

Go on, release it, I dare you. It's what this over-populated, Resource-dwindling planet needs. A good clense!

Click to rate     Rating   19

Stupid is as stupid does......Forest Gump seems like a genius now. What do you think movies like Contagion, Virus, Andromeda strain etc. are made for? To prepare the public for what has been planned by the elite depopulation crowd. They will probably blame it on people that know the truth about and reject vaccines.....Moving Plum Island bio weapon facility to the middle of the country is another predictable piece of the Forrest Gump puzzle.

Click to rate     Rating   10

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