We’ve seen this movie before: Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have used reverse genetics to create a version of the Spanish flu from wild strains. The original strain, remember, killed around 50 million people, but the scientists at Wisconsin-Madison claim their new version is even more deadly because it can spread more easily from animal to animal. Why would scientists do something like this? I09 explains, via The Guardian:
Supporters of so-called “dual-use” research like Kawaoka’s argue that his team’s work is vital, because it allows scientists to get a head start on understanding viruses that might one day pose a serious risk to the global population.
Scientists create deadly flu strain to get ahead of natural virus evolution: what could possibly go wrong? It’s not like it could ever escape the lab or anything. At this rate, it almost seems like there’s a race to see which kind of virus will get to us first. Will it be a natural outbreak of something like MERS? Will it be a deadly strain created in the lab? Or are we doomed already due to the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics? Your guess is as good as ours.