Researchers have placed a temporary shutdown order at an avian bird flu research center after researchers were able to manipulate the virus and make it airborne.
Government officials are worried that terrorists could target the mutated virus located at the Erasmus Medical College in the Netherlands and create a pandemic using the virus in crowded areas.
Dubbed H5N1, the new strain has already been shown to be transmissible in the air between ferrets. Researchers have been using ferrets because they are now believed to be a good stand-in for humans when investigating flu strains.
The shutdown comes a month after a US advisory board asked journals Science and Nature to censor parts of a research study which showed how to potentially make the avian bird flu more viral.
Biosecurity experts called for this most recent shutdown by noting that H5N1 could kill between 20 million and 40 million people if it was ever released into the general public.
In the meantime researchers at the facility say their work is essential in determining how to fight the virus as it continues to mutate. Regardless of their concern over future pandemics researchers “agreed on a voluntary pause of 60 days” so outside groups of scientists could determine if the groups research is safe enough to proceed moving forward.
Do you believe that Avian Bird and other virus experts should continue to manipulate viruses in an attempt to predict how they might be able to fight new strands in the future or are they simply playing with fire?