Ron Fouchier & H5N1

Published November 30, 2011 by Tony


I did not think that the Netherlands and a Dutch scientist could behave so selfish and irresponsible.
I am referring to the virologist Ron Fouchier, of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Holland, which has shown that it takes only 5 steps to change the dreaded and well-known H5N1 bird flu virus and obtain a highly contagious and aggressive one. The version obtained in the laboratory is capable of much more, easily transmitted from man to man and could infect millions of people very quickly, creating uncontrollable pandemic. But researchers who have produced it, still want publish their work, making it available to anyone, and this is the reason beacuse the controversy is flaring up and that leads me to say what said at the beginning. I do not know what’s behind it or researchers motivations, but I thought that Einstein and Fermi concerns and pangs of conscience, at the time of the atomic bomb studies, were a lesson for scientists.
The scientific community is opposed to the publication just raising doubts about the experiment that could be exploited and used for bioterrorism worldwide.
Besides the Dutch study, the controversy concerns a similar work conducted by American researchers (University of Wisconsin) and Japanese (Tokyo University) still about H5N1. Fouchier, despite claims that it is one of the most dangerous viruses that can be achieved, is determined to let everyone know how he got it.
Mr. Fouchier, if you are doing this for the glory or demonstrate your capabilities, there is no need because we take your word for it and beg you to stop before it’s too late!

What can I say, humanity needs scientists but if these, with the money of the community, conduct research that act against the common good, and even put life at risk, then we can only pray and hope that they mend their ways!


2 comments on “Ron Fouchier & H5N1

  • Umm! Overhyped. Really, really over the top “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!” overhype. I checked. It’s a strain that infects ferrets and which only causes mild syptoms in humans. Human mucking around with viruses generally makes them weaker and less dangerous. In this case however all the researchers did was infect a load of ferrets, culture the nastiest version which proved to go for airborne transmission, and then find out what genetic changes there were. Now ferrets aren’t humans. You couldn’t use this process to produce a killer bug for humans unless you had a large institution with a load of captives. I suppose that you could try to shoehorn the genetic changes into a strain known to be lethal in humans, but it has more chance of making it weaker. You’d be better off trying to reconstruct the 1918 virus, the genetic code of which is already in the public domain.

    • If you are a scientist who is studying just such virus, then we could (perhaps) give you credit confidently; otherwise why the scientific community and mass media would have criticized Dr. Fouchier’s work harshly?!

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