Recreating a Monster
My last couple of posts have made reference to the Spanish Flu, likening the reaction of public health officials of today toward the MERS virus to that of their counterparts during the deadly 1918 pandemic. So imagine my surprise when I read this headline: AMERICAN SCIENTISTS CONTROVERSIALLY RECREATE DEADLY SPANISH FLU VIRUS. I mean, what the (insert expletive here)! Are they just plain nuts? The piece from the independent sites their reason for recreating the virus from avian flu fragments, “to show how easy it would be for the deadly flu strain to reemerge today.” Well, Jah! Especially when you are the one that just “recreated” it! Responding to multiple denunciations from the scientific community (can you imagine that?), the lead Dr. Frankenstein on this ghoulish project, Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka, stated disparagingly, “These critics fail to appreciate the precautions and safeguards built into our work, the regulation, review and oversight these studies receive…The risks of conducting this research are not ignored, but they can be effectively managed and mitigated.” Would that be like the strategy being used to contain the MERS virus? Or how about the one imposed on the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa? Or perhaps it is more closely related to the “regulation, review and oversight” experienced during the recent CDC Anthrax debacle that left more than 80 people exposed to the “effectively managed and mitigated” bringer of death? When will we ever learn?