A World of Idiots
(NPR) - Scientists could soon resume controversial experiments on germs with the potential to cause pandemics, as government officials have decided to finally lift an unusual three-year moratorium on federal funding for the work.
The research involves three viruses — influenza, SARS, and MERS — that could kill millions if they mutated in a way that let the germs spread quickly among people.
The bird flu virus H7N9, for example, is known to have infected more than 1,500 people, and 40 percent of them died. But unlike common flu strains, this one does not spread easily among humans.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new framework for making decisions about funding research that has the potential to create a new pandemic strain.
The move by officials may mark the end of a long saga that has sharply divided the scientific community in recent years.
In 2011, scientists revealed that they had deliberately made forms of a deadly bird flu that could transmit easily among ferrets, the stand-in for people in flu studies. Critics argued that the knowledge gained wasn't worth the danger of creating a superflu that might escape the lab.
In early 2012, virologists agreed to put a voluntary moratorium on their bird flu work that was supposed to last only 60 days, but ended up lasting more than a year.
The issue flared up again after unrelated mishaps involving anthrax and bird flu heightened concerns about lab accidents. At about the same time, the Ebola outbreak provided a vivid example of how a deadly, contagious virus could kill thousands.
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Beware the Beast Man
Still true today
|Mad Scientists working on Germ Warfare.|
What could possibly go wrong?
Dr. Peter Elliot: You're some kind of criminal, aren't you?
Monroe: Aren't we all?
Dr. Peter Elliot: No. I'm not a criminal, I'm a scientist.
Monroe: Scientist? I run a few guns. You sons of bitches ruin the world.
|"Justice is coming to all of us, no matter what the fuck we do. You know, mankind's been trying to kill each other off since the beginning of time. Now, we finally have the power to finish the job."|