The government decided that the end of the world isn’t coming fast enough, so they paid some scientists to rush the process. The U.S. government actually PAID scientists to take the deadly bird flu and experiment on it, see how deadly they could really make it. We now know that these experiments were successful, and at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin-Madison – there is now a strain of the flu so ghastly that the effects it could have on this world is unspeakable… or at least nobody is willing to speak about the effects of this new man-made flu. The original strain of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza could only be transmitted through close physical contact. The new, human-created strain is airborne, and can be easily be transmitted through sneezes or coughs. Granted, all of this research was all done with the “best of intentions,” but even the best of intentions can have the direst circumstances.
On Tuesday, the government “asked” these scientists not to make their work public. While Federal officials concede to the fact that this research could be potentially helpful to the populace, they are more concerned that these findings would be devastating in the hands of bio-terrorists. Scientists are a little disgruntled. They believe this information should be shared, especially in regions of the world where bird flu – and other flu – epidemics usually occur. Sharing the research could help other scientists further the progress in creating vaccines.
Normally, researchers would publish their work in the Science and Nature journals and from there this information could be dispersed to the world’s most brilliant minds. However, upon recommendation by America’s biosecurity advisors that only general information about this research be published in these journals, many scientists are left in an uncomfortable position. In a statement this week, Dr. Bruce Alberts (editor-in-chief of Science journal) had this to say: “It’s very important to get this information out to all the people around the world who are living with this virus and are working on it.”
So, now the discussion seems to be, “how much information can these scientists share with other countries?” Really? That’s the biggest question these brilliant minds want answered? I have a question (or a few!): Why did you [the Government] pay scientists to mutate the flu in the first place? It doesn’t seem like you did it to help humanity since you now want to sit on the information you’ve collected, does it? So what’s the plan: Monopolize the flu vaccination market or are we talking about a new form of weapon? If you aren’t doing this to help the world, then what is the motive? And does this not seem like the opening five minutes of Stephen King’s The Stand? Was somebody really brilliant enough to create a “super flu”?!! With 2012 looming overhead, many people are wondering if something is going to happen: aliens, zombies, meteor, etc… but flu apocalypse? I think I’d rather take my chances with a zombie. At least I would see it coming.
However, let us hope it does not come to that. Let us hope that these facilities are safeguarded and that these overseers are thinking of plans for the worst possible scenarios. It’s always best to be prepared. In a statement released after Tuesday’s announcements, Dr. D.A. Henderson of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said that he feels a good middle ground has been found with these new cautious measures, but he also believes that the world needs to think long and hard about re-engineering the influenza virus – especially when you stop to consider the potential for a global incident. Dr. Henderson is known for his work in the extirpation of the smallpox virus. “Influenza is certainly a unique beast in its capability to spread,” said Dr. Henderson. “The question is: how can we assure experiments like this really aren’t done in ways that the organism is apt to escape?”