Creation of a new flu. Frankenstein at work?

Background: Avian flu is very often deadly to humans because we have never seen those markers before, but avian flu is currently not very contagious between humans (one suspected case). It is generally caught from a bird source. But there is a real fear that if an individual is co-infected with a human flu virus and the avian flu virus then the viral DNA may reassort within the individual and create a virus with the deadliness of avian flu and the human to human transmissibility of human flus. We do not know how likely this is to occur but if it did it would be a pandemic killing billions.

So -

Do we try to create such a virus in the lab in order to see it is possible. Or do we invest billions and billions developing and stockpiling a vaccine against something that might be impossible to occur?

According to this article avian flu crossing to humans may have already happened, and been responsible for the pandemic of 1918.

Re Vaccine

IANABiologist, Chemist, etc but my understanding is that you present a false dilemna. In order to create the vaccine, we’d need to study the virus first. Current flu vaccines only protect against certain strains of the influenza virus. If a new strain came along, and was different enough, the vaccines would not give immunity. Which brings me to a second point, unless we can know what the avian/human influenza virus will be like, we can’t create a vaccine. If a hybrid was created in a lab and had characteristics A, B, and C, then the vaccine created from it will be useless if the hybrid created at random and infecting the population has characteristics D, E, and F.

I’m sure Qadgop, Colibri, or Brachyrhincos could be more specific.

IANA biologist either, jest a humble pediatrician, but according to the July 30 Science the aim of such studies is not to develop new vaccines; it is believed that current vaccines under development would be expected to work well against any avian-human influenza hybrid. Instead it is to see how likely such reassortment is, and thus how full throttle development and production should be.

The fear of course is creating the very thing that could make for another 1918 or worse. OTOH, if it is possible, nature’s lab will surely produce the monster as well, and we had better be ready for it. But man those had better be some damn secure labs.

The best argument against it that I’ve heard is that even if we cannot produce it in the lab, real life conditions and the variety of conditions it presents, may still come up with a way, therefore full throttle is called for anyway, and the additional risk gains us nothing.

Does anybody else automatically think of Stephen King’s The Stand when they witness discussions like this?

Subject: New Virus

Thought you would want to know about this SMDB posting virus. Even the most advanced programs from Norton or McAfee cannot take care of this one.
It appears(more frequently)to affect those who were born prior to 1960.

  1. You send the same SMDB post twice.
  2. You send a blank SMDB post.
  3. You send SMDB post to the wrong forum/question.
  4. You send it back to the person who sent it to you.
  5. You forget to attach the attachment.
  6. You hit “SEND” before you’ve finished.
  7. You hit “DELETE” instead of “SEND.”
  8. You hit “SEND” when you should “DELETE.”
    This is called the “C-NILE VIRUS”

Pervert! :wink:

Hell, yeah! As a person who is likely to qualify for one of this year’s doses (though my immune system is fine so a half dose would work) I’m all for it. Getting my yearly flu shot and my every few year pneumonia shot demonstrates that I’m not as self-destructive as I think I am.

And why do you pedes feel the need to get all humble all the time? You are REAL doctors. You heal the sick. Hell’s bells, you heal SICK BABIES! There is no higher calling. Now, if you were a chiropractor it would be different. You 'd stand a very good chance of being a quack and you’d likely not feel humble about it.

DocCathode, interesting link. The last I had heard they thought 1918 was a swine flu.