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The fear of a global epidemic

There was also sharp debate, at that time, in the year 2011 and beyond. Conferences were held, committees were convened, media reported. Finally, the security of the world. Even more amazing is how still and quiet the dispute to the delicate Experiments with dangerous viruses has been circumvented. As the journal "Science" reported in an exclusive post, may Ron Fouchier of the University of Rotterdam and his colleague Yoshihiro Kawaoka, from the University of Wisconsin put their experiments on highly dangerous bird flu virus since January.

The decision taken by a Committee of the US Department for Health and Human Services. The underlying report remain under lock and key. Thus, a new impetus is likely to come up in a debate for the last eight years, and in whose heart is the fear of a global epidemic is both a natural and a man-made.

early detection improve

Fouchier and Kawaoka 2011 had pointed out on their risky experiments. In the course of the Gain-of-Function Experiments (short: GoF, gain of an ability) are hard to change, communicable bird flu virus of the dreaded H5N1 strain so that they make you violent ill, and via droplets in the air is contagious.

Fouchier was succeeded in ferrets, and with the success of the delicate question was, What if such a Virus escapes from the laboratory? What if the test results fall into the wrong hands? But also: What if a pandemic virus emerges, you would be able to explore and not researched? During the debate flared up, refused to Fouchier and Kawaoka temporarily on the publication of their results, interrupted their Attempts, they could borrow on a temporary basis again, and got finally the funds withdrawn. Why you are now allowed to continue remains unclear.

Better awareness of hazards

"It was always about the risk-Benefit assessment," says the virologist and flu expert Stephan Becker of the University of Marburg. What relates to this assessment, are not but even the professionals in the past years, agreed. Fouchier, Kawaoka, and other professions today, the fact that knowledge about dangerous, pandemic-causing mutations in the virus would prepare the world for the better to diseases. For example, out of the laboratory and known mutants more easily detected and thus detected earlier.

The other experts have objected to. Thus, the U.S.-epidemiologists Michael Osterhaus, and Donald Henderson, 2012 in "Science, wrote" that in the event of a pandemic, less knowledge of the Virus as the speedy production and distribution of an effective vaccine are critical.

Stephan Becker believes, however, that the Situation is different today than eight years ago. "Overall, one can say, that has been developed within the research a strong awareness of the security problems." You have to be stronger in view of the risks arising from their own experiments.

Hazardous viruses

report, that the focus of the debate from a possible Dual Use, the misuse of the sharpened viruses for military or terrorist purposes, the laboratory safety has moved. Here is the HHS Committee is probably, at least Kawaoka to inform the authorities, according to "Science", when in his laboratory with a highly pathogenic, by droplet infection transmitted viral variant. Public, the safety requirements, however, are not.

other questions remain open – for example, a non-significant: whether it is a Virus that makes ferret sick, is always harmful to people, too. While animal models typically provide a realistic assessment of what is happening in the people – for example, when it comes to drugs or biological processes. For viruses such as the causative agent of the flu or Ebola, but that is not the case. Some animals develop either slightly or not at all for people to dangerous pathogens. African fruit bats are therefore suspected to be a long-term reservoir for Ebola virus. Conversely, animals die from viruses that cause human hardly any symptoms.

Could it be, then, that one of the researchers identified, highly contagious ferret flu for humans, would pose no danger? "It is not yet clear," says Stephan Becker. An Alternative to the ferret try and he doesn't see yet. "You have to approach the virus. And the only model that could possibly be better, are not-human primates, but such experiments no one wants."

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 15.02.2019, 09:23 PM

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