For more than a decade now, two scientists–one in the U.S. and one in the Netherlands–have been trying to create a deadly human pathogen from avian influenza. That’s right: they are trying to turn “bird flu,” which does not normally infect people, into a human flu.
Not surprisingly, many scientists are vehemently opposed to this.
In response to these and other concerns, in October 2014 the U.S. government called for a “pause” in this dangerous research. NIH Director Francis Collins said that his agency would study the risks and benefits before proceeding further.
Well, four years later, the risks and benefits haven’t changed, but the NIH has (quietly) just allowed the research to start again.
[W]hy the heck would anyone do that? The answers were and still are unsatisfactory: claims such as “we’ll learn more about the pandemic potential of the flu” and “we’ll be better prepared for an avian flu pandemic if one occurs.” These are hand-waving arguments that may sound reasonable, but they promise only vague benefits while ignoring the dangers of this research. If the research succeeds, and one of the newly-designed, highly virulent flu strains escapes, the damage could be horrific.
Read full, original post: Scientists restart bioweapons research, with NIH’s blessing