Thursday, May 14, 2009

WHO looks into possibity that H1N1 swine flu was "manmade"

The World Health Organization is now looking into claims that swine flu (that is, H1N1 influenza) was accidentally created by scientists in a laboratory conducting genetic experiments.

The claims come from Adrian Gibbs in Australia, who helped develop Tamiflu.

Even so, the claims sound extravagant. Influenza viruses are notorious in the way they mutate, as they move from birds to mammals (including hogs) to primates and people. It’s entirely reasonable that it would arise naturally, especially in areas where people live close to livestock and poultry, mostly in the Third World. Ironically, living patterns in some parts of the world, like Central Africa, emerged in response to malaria and smallpox, but could encourage other diseases.

The story appears in the Science column of the Tech Herald, here.

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