Scientists Playing with Virus that Could Kill 1/3 of the Population: This Research Must Stop

Sylvester and Klotz The risks to world health from research to make an extraordinarily lethal avian flu virus contagious in humans have finally caught everyone's attention after months of warnings from us (Lynn Klotz*) and many other experts.

The Atlantic online (Feb. 16) features this question: Shouldn't regular citizens be able to weigh in on whether scientists are allowed to play with a virus that could kill a third of the population? Writer Pagan Kennedy's answer, summarized in the headline: Good luck.

Unfortunately, that feared virus may already exist. Two forms of the virus residing in two laboratories, one in the Netherlands and one in Wisconsin, may be highly contagious and highly deadly in humans, but we have evidence only from a good animal model for influenza viruses. We'll never know if it would be as deadly in humans simply because we cannot infect humans to get the proof.

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