Steven King’s “The Stand”
“The Andromeda Strain”
“V For Vendetta”
“The Last Man On Earth” (Remade starring Charlton Heston as “Omega Man” and remade once more with Will Smith as “I Am Legend”)
Are we finding a theme to these movies and the books to which they relate?
Recognizing the fine line between spreading panic and promoting awareness it does give one pause to wonder: Does life truly imitate art? If so, how closely?
From Naturally News
U.S. Virologists Intentionally Engineer Super-Deadly Pandemic Flu Virus
Thursday, January 31, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
American researchers whose efforts to deliberately re-engineer the H5N1 avian flu virus to be more virulent and deadly to humans are now asking that a government-advised moratorium on their controversial research be lifted. According to TIME, the duo alleges that precise details about how it developed the deadly flu strain must be made public, and that its controversial research be allowed to continue for the sake of “public health.”
As we reported back in early 2012, Ron Fouchier from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and Yoshihiro Kawaoka from the University of Wisconsin intentionally developed a militarized strain of H5N1 avian flu capable of easily transmitting among mammals. Natural strains of H5N1, on the other hand, primarily transmit between birds and other fowl only, which means this type of flu is not that significant of a threat to humans.
But for the alleged purpose of learning how H5N1 might mutate at some point in the future to become more of a threat to humans, Fouchier and Kawaoka deliberately induced these mutations in test ferrets with complete success. In the process, they essentially discovered a way to potentially spark a global flu pandemic with the potential to kill or seriously injure billions of people. And following their insane discovery, they actually tried to publish the recipe for this deadly strain in public journals.
Concerned about the possibility that this critical information might be misused, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), a federal advisory committee that oversees research of this nature, urged the two scientists not to publish their findings in the journals Nature and Science. And while they agreed to this recommendation initially, Fouchier and Kawaoka are now pushing to continue on with their work.
“Because H5N1 virus transmission studies are essential for pandemic preparedness and understanding the adaptation of influenza viruses to mammals, researchers who have approval from their governments and institutions to conduct this research safely, under appropriate biosafety and biosecurity conditions, have a public-health responsibility to resume this important work,” allege the original researchers about their work.
Only about 350 people worldwide have ever died from H5N1
Based on the wording of this petition, you would think that H5N1 is responsible for killing at least tens of thousands of people every year, and that we must take action now to stop its spread. But in reality, H5N1 has only infected about 600 people ever since it was first discovered in Hong Kong back in 1997. And among these 600, only about 350 ended up dying, which means roughly 24 people a year, on average, die from H5N1 infection.
Contrast this with the roughly 5,000 Americans who die every year from food poisoning, for instance, and it becomes abundantly clear that H5N1 is hardly the serious public health threat that Fouchier, Kawaoka, and others continually claim it is. The average person is more likely to die from choking on a piece of lettuce than he or she is of ever contracting H5N1 influenza, let alone dying from it. So why all the focus on deliberately inducing H5N1 to spread among humans and cause a real pandemic?
The real answer to this question is shrouded in mystery. If you believe the official explanation, researchers merely want to anticipate how H5N1 might mutate in the future in order to get a handle early on how to address it. It is a purely hypothetical scenario that may not ever come to pass, of course, but it is the purported reason and justification for such research, even though such research could end up being the cause of a deadly H5N1 outbreak in the very near future.
And this brings us to the second and more sinister explanation. Researchers could be deliberately engineering a super-deadly form of H5N1 for the unstated purpose of eventually releasing it into the wild in order to trigger a pandemic. This is not that far-fetched when considering that the researchers involved in this work are carefully studying how many times the already-mutated virus needs to spread between mammals on its own in order to naturally mutate again into an even more deadly virus.
“The case fatality rate of wild H5N1 in the WHO (World Health Organization) database is nearly 60 percent … So if a strain of H5N1 with that fatality rate were engineered to spread like seasonal flu, hundreds of millions of people’s lives would be at risk,” Thomas Inglesby, Director and CEO of the Center for Bio-security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is quoted as saying by CNSNews.com.
“Even a strain a hundred times less fatal would place at risk millions of people’s lives,” he added.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from militarized flu strains, check out the special report, The Five Best Anti-Viral Products to Beat Influenza, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and SARS:
Is this reason to panic? No, there are many strains of virus created in laboratory research that are as deadly, and kept under strict protocols from being released into the public. H5N1 has only gotten this amount of press because of the inordinate amount of press it was given when it was feared as the next flu pandemic a few years ago. Despite what movies may show, even airborne agents cannot escape through ventilation systems as research facilities are kept at lower air pressure than surrounding conditions for that very reason. It would take a human agent and an intentional act to disperse such a threat.
If some terroristic super spy, or emotionally disturbed and disgruntled worker chooses to take out his mommy issues on the bulk of humanity is not a scenario we can adequately predict, only take care to prevent. But here is a fact: When any population in nature grows to exceed its resources something comes along; disease, starvation, or natural disaster to reduce that population and that reduction does not preclude the possibility of the result: to zero.
Yes, it is a fine line between inciting panic and promoting awareness, the difference is hopefully a balanced and informed approach to the subject which the Nature article, and I hope this one strive to provide. But there is also a fine line between researching a threat and becoming one. I expect the current breed of humans will never learn that you cannot play with natural systems and assume you have accounted for all of the variables, or presume that you truly understand the results.
The Bubonic plague that swept Europe in the 14th century did so as result of biological warfare when Mongols intentionally infected a besieged town in the Crimea. 25 Million deaths resulted, which depending population estimates accounted for between 30% and 60% of the population of Europe at that time.
The influenza epidemic of 1918 (also a bird flu), thought to be the result of one sick American soldier who was not properly screened before heading off to serve in the trenches of WWI, circled the globe and killed 50 of every thousand people infected. In the United States it reduced life expectancy by ten years, and killed 10 times many Americans than were killed in the war. A total death count of that flu ranges between 20 and 40 million.