War 360 essay from Life at the Center of the Universe
Lets look at this from a distance….
W.H.O. Spokesman Gregory Hartl, on travel to Mexico:
do not work. Travel restrictions do not work," Hartl said, recalling
the 2003 SARS epidemic that killed 774 people, mostly in Asia, and
slowed the global economy.
"There was much more economic disruption
caused by these measures than there was public health benefit."
WAR 360: "Going extinct by definition- a culture that values money more than life."
CDC to mix avian, human flu viruses in pandemic study
Robert Roos News Editor
Jan 14, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – One of the worst fears of infectious
disease experts is that the H5N1 avian influenza virus now circulating
in parts of Asia will combine with a human-adapted flu virus to create
a deadly new flu virus that could spread around the world.
That could happen, scientists predict,
if someone who is already infected with an ordinary flu virus contracts
the avian virus at the same time. The avian virus has already caused at
least 48 confirmed human illness cases in Asia, of which 35 have been
fatal. The virus has shown little ability to spread from person to
person, but the fear is that a hybrid could combine the killing power
of the avian virus with the transmissibility of human flu viruses.
Now, rather than waiting to see if
nature spawns such a hybrid, US scientists are planning to try to breed
one themselves—in the name of preparedness.
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) will soon launch experiments designed to combine the
H5N1 virus and human flu viruses and then see how the resulting hybrids
affect animals. The goal is to assess the chances that such a
"reassortant" virus will emerge and how dangerous it might be.
CDC officials confirmed the plans for
the research as described recently in media reports, particularly in a
Canadian Press (CP) story.
Two ways to make hybrids
plans call for trying two methods to create hybrid viruses, CDC
spokesman David Daigle told CIDRAP News via e-mail. One is to infect
cells in a laboratory tissue culture with H5N1 and human flu viruses at
the same time and then watch to see if they mix. For the human virus,
investigators will use A (H3N2), the strain that has caused most human
flu cases in recent years, according to the CP report.
The other method is reverse
genetics—assembling a new virus with sets of genes from the H5N1 and
H3N2 viruses. Reverse genetics has already been used to create H5N1
candidate vaccines in several laboratories, according to Daigle. The
National Institutes of Health (NIH) said recently it would soon launch
a clinical trial of one of those vaccines.
Of the two methods, the co-infection
approach was described as slower and more laborious, though closer to
what happens in nature.
Any viable viruses that emerge from
these processes will be seeded into animals that are considered good
models for testing how flu viruses behave in humans, according to
Daigle. The aim will be to observe whether the animals get sick and
whether infected animals can infect others.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
has been "pleading" for laboratories to do this research, because it
could provide some evidence to back up the agency’s warnings about the
risk of a flu pandemic, according to the CP report.
Klaus Stohr, head of the WHO’s global
influenza program, was quoted as saying that if none of the hybrids
caused disease, the agency might be inclined to dial down its level of
concern. But if the experiments produce highly transmissible and
pathogenic viruses, the agency will be more worried, he said.
of the obvious risks in creating viruses with the potential to spark a
pandemic, the work will be done in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3)
laboratory at the CDC in Atlanta, Daigle told CIDRAP News.
"We recognize that there is concern by
some over this type of work. This concern may be heightened by reports
of recent lab exposures in other lab facilities," he said. "But CDC has
an incredible record in lab safety and is taking very strict
Daigle said the US Department of
Agriculture requires that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)
viruses be treated as "Select Agents" and that research on them must be
done in BSL-3 labs with "enhancements." These include "special
provisions to protect both laboratory workers and the environment."
BSL-3 is the second highest level of
laboratory biosecurity. It is used for work with pathogens that may
cause serious or potentially lethal disease if inhaled, such as
tuberculosis or St. Louis encephalitis, according to the CDC.
CDC experiments with HPAI viruses have
to pass reviews by the agency’s Institutional Biosafety Committee and
Animal Care and Use Committee, Daigle said. The facilities involved are
inspected by the USDA and the CDC’s Office of Safety and Health, and
staff members who work with Select Agents require special clearance.
It’s been done before
upcoming experiments will not break entirely new ground for the CDC,
the CP story revealed. The agency already has made hybrid viruses with
H5N1 samples isolated from patients in Hong Kong in 1997, when the
virus first caused human disease.
The results of that research have not
yet been published, and the CDC has said little about them. In the CP
report, Dr. Nancy Cox, head of the CDC’s influenza branch, commented
only, "Some gene combinations could be produced and others could not."
Daigle added little to that. He said,
"The reassortment work with the 1997 isolate was intermittently
interrupted with SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] and then the
2004 H5N1 outbreak. We are currently concentrating our efforts on
understanding the pathogenicity of the 2004 strains (non-reassortants)
in mammalian models."
He said the CDC hopes to prepare a report on that research "in the near future."
CDC information on biosafety levels
Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy
Academic Health Center — University of Minnesota
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