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Details of the Second Controversial Mutant Bird Flu Study Finally Published

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the terrorist-handbook dept.

Medicine 78

An anonymous reader writes "The second of the two controversial bird flu studies once considered too risky to publish in fears that they would trigger a potentially devastating global influenza epidemic was published Thursday. The study describes how scientists created H5N1 virus strains that could become capable of airborne transmission between mammals. Scientists said that the findings, which had been censored for half a year, could help them detect dangerous virus strains in nature."

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78 comments

Again. (1, Flamebait)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40406807)

"could help them detect dangerous virus strains in nature."

But since it's "woowoo scary" we bury this research in spite of the benefits.

--
BMO

Re:Again. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40406823)

"was published Thursday"

Hell forget TFA, read the summary much?

Re:Again. (2)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40406835)

>Censored for a half year

Read the summary much?

How long does censorship have to last before it's "safe" to release research?

What about next time? A year? Two? Never?

--
BMO

Re:Again. (2)

thoughtspace (1444717) | about 2 years ago | (#40406871)

That time? ... When they develop also develop the antidote or cure.

Re:Again. (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40406929)

>When they develop also develop the antidote or cure.

No released research = no cure.

Your move.

--
BMO

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407073)

The people doing this research are also capable of creating vaccines, etc. There is no need to release it publicly. No 'move' needed.

Re:Again. (1, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40407355)

The people doing this research are also capable of creating vaccines, etc.

[citation needed]. Would appreciate if you can find citations showing their capability to produce quantities large enough if needed in a pandemic.

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407867)

The difficult part of creating a vaccine is determining a structure in the virus that is reliably accessible to an antibody, and which is not likely to cause a cross-reaction with the host's cells. The actual laboratory techniques used in the process are very routine and can be done by any lab routinely does molecular biology and protein chemistry. I created a few to other proteins in a mouse model system when I was a graduate student.

As to volume, they don't need to produce large quantities. They only need to develop the vaccine. And that development can be done either by these researchers themselves, or any number of other laboratires that they trust (signed NDAs, etc) to share data with, without publishing/releasing the data to the general public.

Production can then be handed off to one of the companies who already produce vaccines at scale. Scaling up is not a big technical hurdle. The production company has no need to have the details on how to actually build the virus in order to generate the vaccine.

Re:Again. (2)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#40407947)

The people doing this research are also capable of creating vaccines, etc.

[citation needed]. Would appreciate if you can find citations showing their capability to produce quantities large enough if needed in a pandemic.

Wonder-Twin powers - deactivate logic! Form of: internet argument!

As far as actual capabilities of the researchers go, the creation of a vaccine is accomplished by creating a mutated form of the virus that triggers an autoimmune response without causing the harmful symptoms. The science is exactly the same as creating any other mutated form, such as one that can be spread via mammalian respiration, a.k.a. the paper they authored.

And the capability to create has nothing to do with the capability to mass-produce. If that were true, you'd still be waiting for George Lucas to make you your very own VHS copy of Star Wars in his VCR. (Spoiler: by the time he gets around to recording yours, Chewbacca will have shot first!)

Re:Again. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40408101)

The people doing this research are also capable of creating vaccines, etc.

[citation needed]. Would appreciate if you can find citations showing their capability to produce quantities large enough if needed in a pandemic.

As far as actual capabilities of the researchers go, the creation of a vaccine is accomplished by creating a mutated form of the virus that triggers an autoimmune response without causing the harmful symptoms.

And developing that something without harmful symptoms is so easy? I doubt it, otherwise I'd have heard of vaccines for AIDS and Ebola for quite a long ago.

If you know they've already developed the vaccine for the mutated H5N1 virus, why not provide the citation I requested? Until I hear about it, I'll stay with my opinion: better share all the info about the virus for increased chances somebody develop the vaccine quicker if/when needed and/or to know where to look if detecting a possible strain that mutated in the wild.

And the capability to create has nothing to do with the capability to mass-produce. If that were true, you'd still be waiting for George Lucas to make you your very own VHS copy of Star Wars in his VCR. (Spoiler: by the time he gets around to recording yours, Chewbacca will have shot first!)

Haha... funny! Only serious: it's stupid for the context of mass producing vaccines!
Until someone fully developed a vaccine, do you have any warranty that a good vaccine can be copied "VCR/CD/DVD/BlueRay like"? You sure that the mutated virus/protein/antibody for the vaccine can be grown as usual (egg-embryos or whatever) and still be effective? What if not and the mass-production doesn't scale that cheaply?

Re:Again. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 2 years ago | (#40408215)

Giving out the data will be of limited value. It's more a matter of luck of the draw if anyone else comes out with a vaccine sooner than the labs in the loop, if anyone comes out with a working one at all.

However, by giving out the instructions on how to build the virus, it is a CERTAINTY that a malicious group with routine laboratory skills could build the virus.

Providing the enemy with diagrams to build a main battle tank out of readily available parts from a scrapyard, in order to hope that you can speed up your allies ability to devise a new anti-tank weapon to counter the tank is... stupid.

Re:Again. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40408287)

Giving out the data will be of limited value.

A matter of opinion. While I'll respect yours, it doesn't mean I have to agree with it.

Re:Again. (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#40413617)

And developing that something without harmful symptoms is so easy? I doubt it, otherwise I'd have heard of vaccines for AIDS and Ebola for quite a long ago.

Of course it's not easy, which is why they need this research to help understand the mutated forms of H5N1. And as you are no doubt aware, influenza is a lot simpler disease to deal with than HIV with its constant rounds of mutation, and Ebola which kills so quickly.

I'll stay with my opinion: better share all the info about the virus for increased chances somebody develop the vaccine quicker if/when needed and/or to know where to look if detecting a possible strain that mutated in the wild.

No argument from me there. We need this research to lessen the impact of the next round of pandemic flu.

And the capability to create has nothing to do with the capability to mass-produce. If that were true, you'd still be waiting for George Lucas to make you your very own VHS copy of Star Wars in his VCR. (Spoiler: by the time he gets around to recording yours, Chewbacca will have shot first!)

Haha... funny! Only serious: it's stupid for the context of mass producing vaccines!
Until someone fully developed a vaccine, do you have any warranty that a good vaccine can be copied "VCR/CD/DVD/BlueRay like"? You sure that the mutated virus/protein/antibody for the vaccine can be grown as usual (egg-embryos or whatever) and still be effective? What if not and the mass-production doesn't scale that cheaply?

Yeah, it was a cheap joke. But it still is a valid point: the researcher who develops the vaccine doesn't necessarily have to be the same guy who figures out how to culture and incubate it for a mass production process. Different skill sets there.

Re:Again. (1)

theshibboleth (968645) | about 2 years ago | (#40413899)

Maybe that's true, but more specifically only the people doing this research (who can tell exactly what it is) have the best chance of creating vaccines. The whole point of publishing research is so that everyone knows about it and can get as much benefit as the original researchers.

Re:Again. (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40407823)

You seem to be forgetting that nobody has ever been able to "cure" a virus ever. EVER. Antibacterials and antifungals exist but nothing kills viruses. "Antiviral" medicines do something else. So I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for a magical viral cure.

By the way, vaccine != cure.

In my opinion, anyone purposely working on a more dangerous version of a deadly flu for very close to no reason, they should be shut down immediately. They're turning "Let's prepare for 'what if' by studying potential mutations" into "Well, there it is. I hope nobody steals it." How did it get this far?

Re:Again. (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#40408151)

Security through obscurity can quite easily result in far greater loss. I would much rather have years of research done on dangerous pathogens and risk someone developing a weapon based upon it than have someone develop a dangerous pathogen no one's ever seen before without anyone who's an expert at studying virus propagation and mutation because someone got scared and banned the research.

In the former case, you already have experts on hand who are intimately familiar with the virus, giving them a leg up on developing a vaccine. Even better - the published research is more likely to provide a subtle nudge towards the same line of pathogens, keeping any would-be bio-terrorists from coming up with anything too terribly exotic. In the latter case, we're left years behind the race towards a vaccine and may not even have any experts available to start the research (as it's been banned). All the ground-breaking knowledge will be locked away behind the closed doors of those with calamitous intent.

Re:Again. (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#40408183)

In my opinion, anyone purposely working on a more dangerous version of a deadly flu for very close to no reason, they should be shut down immediately.

Well, it's a good thing they have a really good reason then. They want to prevent a pandemic flu.

A pandemic is caused by a novel influenza virus that we are not immune to, and can spread itself quickly from infected host to uninfected human via airborne droplets.

As you pointed out, viruses do not die. The host's autoimmune system either learns how to control the more lethal strains, or the host dies. And we've learned the host's autoimmune system can be trained by inoculating it with a strain of the virus that looks very similar to the lethal strain, yet does not contain the machinery that typically causes sickness or death. We call this process vaccination.

We know the influenza virus lives for a long while in a non-human animal population (pigs, birds, horses), slowly mutating away from something our human autoimmune systems used to be able to recognize into a new form of the disease. This is called drift. (Reassortment is another mutational path that leads to new forms of the virus.) Judging by the regularity with which we are afflicted by pandemic flu viruses, this seems to happen about every 20 years. As we approach that 20 year mark, the occasional cross-species infection will occur, as the virus hops into some unlucky human who was in direct contact with the infected host. At that time, it's evident that there's a new form of the disease to which we're no longer immune.

We also know that every so often natural mutations will confer the ability to become transmissible to humans via airborne droplets that are exhaled by a carrier. Once that happens, the virus is able to spread among humans very rapidly.

So there are two things nature needs to create a new strain of pandemic flu: novelty and transmissibility. Once we see the novel form, it's time to create a vaccine that hopefully will lessen its impact before the time it naturally becomes transmissible on its own.

But mutations are mutations. We don't know for certain that the mutant form that's transmissible is still similar enough to the novel form for our autoimmune systems to recognize them both (keep in mind that the non-lethal form cultured for the vaccine is already somewhat different from the lethal form.) So the researchers are trying to study the possible mutations so they can test and develop the vaccines before they're actually needed in the wild.

tl;dr - they need to do this research, or a lot of people will die.

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40413877)

Immune system, not autoimmune, autoimmune is when the body attacks itself

Re:Again. (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | about 2 years ago | (#40408095)

>When they develop also develop the antidote or cure.

No released research = no cure.

Your move.

-- BMO

Zero Day Exploit that KILLS PEOPLE.

Your Move.

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40409061)

--
BMO

hello, attention whore!!

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40406937)

Since that is not likely to happen, then we all best live in ignorance and pray that a given virus is not similar to the one researched, because ....???

Your nick is quite ironic actually.

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40408939)

--
BMO

hello, attention whore!

Re:Again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407155)

Dear Dr. Stupid,

Did it ever occur to you that there might other ways to detect dangerous virus strains in nature besides weaponizing the avian flu? And then teaching the world how to do it?

Maybe carrying a nuclear hand grenade isn't the best way to scare off muggers?

xoxo, Anonymous

Re:Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40408145)

The original "benefit" as it had been explained when it was originally censored was that it could help scientists detect the strain they already made, had it mutated naturally this way on its own in the future. So basically they practically weaponized the avian flu for the chance that if the flu ever mutated that specific way naturally, they could detect it.

The person who transcribed the summary is an idiot. It doesn't do anything broad like helping detect various virus strains. Just this one.

not really a bio weapon we promise (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40406861)

What we really meant to say is we created a dangerous strain and will release it in the wild. We were doing it for research purposes only of course so don't worry about any kind of accidental release.

Re:not really a bio weapon we promise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407211)

It won't be an accidental release but it might lead to a sustainable world with many fewer people in it. There are agencies looking for ways to reduce the world population by over 95% by the end of this century.

Larry Ellison figured out how to avoid it. He bought his own Hawaiian island. 150 square miles should be able to keep him and his family well provisioned for a while. If he can hold it when the collapse comes.

Re:not really a bio weapon we promise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407305)

It won't be an accidental release but it might lead to a sustainable world with many fewer people in it. There are agencies looking for ways to reduce the world population by over 95% by the end of this century.

Well, I'm doing my part! I can pretty much assure you I won't be here at the end of this century. (50s baby) No bio-weapons needed :)

two mad scientist walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40406927)

Hey everyone we just made a virus that did not exist before!!!

It is so fantastic we are so smart and great! It will replicate faster than any virus and spread through mammals!

Don't worry nothing bad will happen we have this under control we through of everything!!!

Only one problem.... We can not make a cure for it.

Re:two mad scientist walk into a bar (3, Interesting)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#40407071)

Sadly, this scenario of "the end of civilisation" is more likely than nuclear war. Presumably, just like the black death, not all would die, but the impact would be just as devastating as any WWIII

Re:two mad scientist walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407149)

You do understand, don't you, that Freedom, Wealth, Education, Commerce, Equality, Human Possibility, all reached new heights after WWII? Don't mis-understand, able1234au, I get what you're saying. But do you really think a mere thousand years matters in the history of a planet?

I just hope when the end comes for me that I'm sharing a bed with someone I care for and a nice bottle of Cliquot.

Re:two mad scientist walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407343)

Sadly, this scenario of "the end of civilisation" is more likely than nuclear war. Presumably, just like the black death, not all would die, but the impact would be just as devastating as any WWIII

I just hope when the end comes for me that I'm sharing a bed with someone I care for and a nice bottle of Cliquot.

Well, my guess is if you're suffering from an incurable disease, especially something as horrible as black death, neither clit nor Cliquot is going to make you feel better...

Re:two mad scientist walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40409819)

The original parent was comparing to potential of WW 3. The 'I' are very close together so I can see how the mind would read them as only two ('WWII') vs. three ('WWIII').

Re:two mad scientist walk into a bar (1)

shiftless (410350) | about 2 years ago | (#40413859)

You do understand, don't you, that Freedom, Wealth, Education, Commerce, Equality, Human Possibility, all reached new heights after WWII?

For the survivors.

I am sure those who had limbs blown off or lost their entire families to firebombs would be hard pressed to call it a good tradeoff.

Please Mrs. Le-mon, to file this under 'Maslow' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407103)

1. Errant Scientists
2. Determined terrorists
3 Ideological propagandists.

Bernie's new line of research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407143)

So this is what Doctor Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz has been working on then!

The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (4, Insightful)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 2 years ago | (#40407175)

WTF? That makes no sense. How does publishing a PAPER somehow unleash the virus? The research and work has already been done. Censoring or publishing the paper does nothing to affect, one way or another, whether the virus will mutate in this fashion.

As for potential terrorism uses, there are plenty of other virulent diseases that can be weaponized, far easier, in crude labs.

Frankly, I'd be more afraid of terrorists creating some disease that acts slowly, while spreading rapidly, across a narrow genotype. Think of the damage a virus that shuts down your kidneys completely, followed by other organs... over a couple of years time, while spreading as an airborne pathogen. Our health systems would be overtaxed, productivity would drop, it would be an economic disaster for the targeted areas.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40407261)

>WTF? That makes no sense. How does publishing a PAPER somehow unleash the virus?

Because the powers that be that make these decisions know nothing about virology and everything about politics.

These are the same idiots that call terrorists that try to explode their underpants "sophisticated" on national television.

Sophisticated is what the USSR was doing up until the collapse - making nuclear weapons that could explode at a desired height above ground within a couple of meters accuracy in 3 dimensions and wipe out an entire city.

Yet according to them, we should wet their pants over a paper or exploding underpants. The mental gymnastics of this sort of doublethink are olympic-class.

--
BMO

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40407279)

I said: "Yet according to them, we should wet their pants"

OUR, not THEIR.

Daffy Duck: "Pronoun trouble"

--
BMO

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40407403)

I said: "Yet according to them, we should wet their pants"

OUR, not THEIR.

It was truly better before publishing the errata.

(I know, almost in the same category with erotic fantasy, but...) If needed, I would queue for day and nights if I knew I can legally wet their pants while they are wearing them. Heck, I'd do it multiple times.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40408809)

I'm right with ya there, brah. I'd be drinking beer in the queue, as it has Vitamin P.

--
BMO

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#40412453)

"I drink a whiskey drink;
I drink a chocolate drink;
and when I have to pee
I use the kitchen sink.

I sing the song that reminds me I'm a urinating guy!"

(HJS)

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407435)

Well... And if you can wipe out a whole city, probably you don't care to be quite accurate.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407585)

Actually, the USSR was building bigger warheads to compensate for their lack of accurate missle technology.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

skine (1524819) | about 2 years ago | (#40408025)

To quote Jon Stewart from his appearance on The O'Reilly Factor:

"Let's look at the geniuses we're up against. Richard Reid was the airplane bomber. He tried to take that explosive and put it in his shoes. It took them eight years, and the plan they came up with in eight years is 'uhh... why don't we try sticking it under that guy's genitals?' That's what they did in eight years. They moved from the guy's shoes up to his underwear. And that's who we're up against."

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40409131)

--
BMO

hello, attention whore!!!

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407447)

Posting AC because I'm talking about work (and stupid things we discussed as work).

When Kawaoka published, my lab got together and examined what it would take to actually build the virus. It was surprisingly easy--and I'm an undergraduate intern in a bacterial lab (but I am studying viro, hence my interest). We could do it within our tiny budget with no problem, and the professor said he thought his students could do it with the help of a textbook. Order the genetic code in snippets, stitch it together, make plasmid, express it. You could do that in your bedroom after dropping a few thousand dollars on basic, easy-to-use lab gear and custom genetic fragments.

I'm not defending the censorship, which has been demonstrated again and again was utterly without merit, but I can understand why it happened.

Kawaoka and Fouchier suffered because, partially at their own hand, their papers were initially misrepresented. Somehow, somewhere, someone said that all of their ferrets died of flu. This simply isn't true. This was therefore repeated and repeated until it became an 'official' rumor, largely because this isn't a statistic typically associated with flu. Because this was marked as potentially dangerous virus, the paper was reviewed by the NSABB (National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity). NSABB examines papers that may be of 'dual use'--useful to research and useful to terrorists. The NSABB *does* have trained virologists, but since NSABB is primarily appointed by present NSABB members from a pool of people who are interested in NSABB work, it's full of people who are in the biosecurity mindset. The NSABB, by the way, is a purely advisory board with no powers whatsoever.

Their recommendation was basically 'let's wait and think more about this.' Therefore, the now-known harmless nature of the viruses suddenly became a secret. Kawaoka and Fouchier could have prevent this controversy by releasing their conclusion with no details, but they decided to play by the rules and not talk about anything.

The blame is spread around a fair bit, but it stands most firmly on the NSABB's hesitance and gag order (or gag suggestion, I suppose). Personally (and a number of prominent virologists seem to agree), I think that the media's need for a story is the central problem, as it both took the bad facts about the results and repeated them, ultimately passing them on to NSABB.

If this had been a nasty virus, this hype would be justified. Yes, we can make plague, 1918 flu, etc, in the lab, but we know those viruses. Without knowing that, for instance, oseltamivir kills these new viruses very easily, we were potentially faced with a novel virus with zero data as to how we could respond to it.

As to releasing the cure before the paper, that's actually possible: the novel from the virus and data from the paper could have been handed over to federal (probably military) labs, who could have worked on a vaccine.

If you have some hours to burn, check out http://www.twiv.tv/tag/nsabb/ for a lengthy but decent coverage by a few of the best-know virologists.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 years ago | (#40407985)

How exactly do you propose they would be able to test a vaccine for a virus that doesn't exist in the wild? How would you conduct human trials without the virus potentially getting into the wild?

Here, we are going to inject you with this untested vaccine and then expose you to an heretofore unknown virus, oh and since this virus is unknown we expect you to stay quarantined off from all human contact until we are 100% sure the virus is completely eliminated from your system, or you die, in which case we will incinerate your body and bury the remains in an undisclosed location. Can I pencil you in for a 2:00?

The military has developed vaccines in the past(and in secret), but those were for KNOWN diseases. Making a vaccine for a disease that isn't out in the wild yet is a pretty dicey affair.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (1)

iter8 (742854) | about 2 years ago | (#40409771)

I wish I had mod points today. You would get them all. Until this post, this has been a fact free discussion.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40410841)

Uhg! Head. Hurt.

So what you are saying is that because you *think* you could develop the virus, and you are *pretty sure* you can make enough of it to be dangerous, and you *guess* it might be easy for anyone to do this with a few thousand dollars of equipment and what sounds like an oil-tanker full of luck, then the information in the study should be suppressed.

Here's a few things you are forgetting:

99.9999999% of people couldn't give a flying fig about creating a virus. The remaining .0000001% either don't have the knowledge, money, or knew enough to realize that weaponizing a virus would be incredibly stupid, dangerous, and wasteful when you could do so much more with other methods of destruction. This is researchers and intel/black ops government types wanking off at how important their jobs are and how safe they are keeping us.

Next time release the research and take a Valium.

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40414411)

Great post. Thank you! :)

Re:The paper is published, the virus is unleashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40410713)

my believe is its a double standard of hypocrisy common through USiA. WE can be trusted to always use with prudence, you cant. WE don't trust you to not weaponize this research but never mind we probably will).

nevermind our history with war's in other peoples backyard.

This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or ... (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#40407301)

other terrorists to make this? IT IS TRIVIAL. In fact, it is CHEAP to do, esp. compared to all of their other ideas.

So, how do you do it? You get allies to work in chicken farms in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, etc. These are all the places in which H5N1 variants are active. Wait until the farm has it (and right now, about 5-10% of the farms get it EACH YEAR). Once a place has it, take samples from the various chickens and take it back to Pakistan. spin down the blood, removing the blood cells and then inject it into a person (oddly, better to inject it into a child or old person; Avian operates different than other virus). Once they have it, expose them to normal airborne human flu. IOW, you are turning a human into a viral incubator. At that time, take samples of the person to hold aside, while you have 10-15 humans (knowing AQ, probably women) wait on the incubator. Spend a lot of time with them for the next 5-10 days. If somebody becomes infected, draw a number of samples from them, while allowing them to infect several other ppl. If the first set of waitors die from the infection, then you very likely have an airborne avian flu.

At that time, keep the infections going for a bit, but ideally, add in swine flu. The spanish flu that stopped WWI, was apparently a combination of Avian, Swine, and Human flu. Regardless, the original mixture is enough, but if you go with several more levels, you can make it even more lethal.

At that time, draw blood over the course of a couple of days from current incubators, spin it down to remove blood cells, mix, and then break apart into 1MM vials. That is enough to turn any human that is injected with it into a typhoid mary. Send them into airports, sporting events, malls, etc. Do it during the early phase when it is shedding, but not showing much symptoms of morbidity. Upon the person showing too many signs, pull them in, allow them to die in a quiet apartment and then dispose. Repeat with new person.

So, why did I post this? To point out how trivial it is to create this. More importantly, to point out that AQ has some nice and easy means of doing this. The question is, what stops them? Their enmens (sp). These ppl will say no to this. At some point, as AQ gets to the end of losing their war, they will disregard and do this. At that time, I hope that we are ready. Otherwise, it is possible that the spanish flu will be nothing more than a sniffle compared to what this will do.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (4, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40407313)

Yet AQ cannot even get someone's underpants to explode correctly.

--
BMO

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#40407473)

That is actually a LOT harder. They are trying to teach ppl REMOTELYhow to manufacturer bombs from multiple household chemicals that require loads of works to get them pure enough. Then you have to build a detonator (actually, the easy part). You have to explain how to sneak it into the airport and handle the stuff CAREFULLY (best way is to have somebody else do all of these steps since detectors can pick up a number of chemicals on clothing/skin). Finally, you are taking a person that is NOT really ready to sacrifice their life (only 9/11 ppl were really ready to give it their all) and putting them on the plane and trying to get them to do this. The ones in the camps and the guys on 9/11 PRACTICED all of this for DAYS. The underwear bombers did not practice. They just HOPED to make it through it.

OTOH, with this approach, somebody can do the hard part IN PRIVATE. Nobody watching. Then they calm themselves, say their goodbyes, and 1-2 days later start walking around the malls. Go into bathrooms, sneeze on their hands and wipe it on handles all over. Be a hotel maid and wipe their snot all over remote controls and wash basins (next day do the mall). Go to bars/clubs for the next couple of nights and have a GOOD TIME(you have 72 virgins coming your way). No, this is so much easier and can hit hard and fast compared to what 9/11 did. By doing this during flu season, it will actually make it worse since so many fools will go to work sick. But by mixing it with more variants of other flus, they spread it faster.

Weird to think about it, but this was all from when I worked at CDC back in 1980 (soviet commies). We discussed it on other bugs, but this works even better than the bugs that we were discussing. The reason is that if you have say 20 ppl spread around the nation and another 20 around Europe and perhaps another 20 around other nations such as Russia and China, it will be 2 weeks before the medical teams realize that they have been hit.

Note that AQ has a widely distributed army (and yes, it IS an Army). Smart on their part. They can hide all over with us unable to hit them. And if they take out 100K or more in several weeks, then they will get 100K following them. Sad, but true.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40409259)

Hey, that chick I saw right before she vaporized, something else sure exploded.

Such a waste.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40409331)

--
BMO

hello, attention whore!!!!

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40407483)

other terrorists to make this? IT IS TRIVIAL. In fact, it is CHEAP to do, esp. compared to all of their other ideas. So, how do you do it? You get allies to work in chicken farms in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, etc. These are all the places in which H5N1 variants are active. Wait until the farm has it (and right now, about 5-10% of the farms get it EACH YEAR). ...

Too much trouble: just grow thousands of swines and chicken together. If needed, throw in some human flu infected personnel.

The "worst" thing that can happen: everything is normal and you have a successful agricultural business.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (1)

iter8 (742854) | about 2 years ago | (#40409895)

Something similar to that experiment is done every year. In many parts of the world people live in crowded conditions with close contact to pigs and chickens. A small number of people become infected with H5N1. A few die, most don't. If you did the experiment that you describe, you will probably end up with results similar those in the paper - people would get ill; maybe a few would die, probably from Al Qaeda medical care. If you want to be a terrorist, cheap explosives are more cost effective.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#40417737)

As BMO said, even a simple terrorists could not get it right. Explosives are HARD. VERY HARD. handle them wrong, and they blow up early (plenty of ppl are proof of that). Do not do them right, and they do not blow up at all (ask the shoe and underwear bombers). Things like Military made explosions work because they were built under lab and factory specs. The chemicals went in PRECISELY. IOW, the chemists and techs know exactly how they will behave. But homemade explosives from every-day chemicals? Lots of work and easy to get wrong.

OTOH, doing a viral attack the way that I describe allows the terrorists to do all of the hard work in say pakistan, somalia, indonesia, China, Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela. Once they are done, it is trivial to get small ampules back into a multiple of nations. And no explosive weapon shy of a nuke can be so small and kill 100K to 100M ppl to potentially 1B all in several weeks, and without leaving a trace.

Re:This is stupid. How easy is it for Al Qaeda or (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 2 years ago | (#40411443)

Didn't someone (?Iran?) do this in a Tom Clancy book? IIRC they used aerosol distribution put it into AC system at trade shows who then all got onto airplanes.

not long (1)

kwikrick (755625) | about 2 years ago | (#40408091)

6 months? Big deal. That's just the normal delay to get something published in a peer reviewed journal. For some journals it can take up to a year.

RTFA! (4, Interesting)

PhilistineGuillotine (2633149) | about 2 years ago | (#40408241)

Clearly those panicking did not bother to read even the abstract. Not a single ferret died from airborne transmission which is how this flu would spread. It's not even clear whether this new kind of flu would be more dangerous than the present wild type flu viruses, which kill many people every year. Why on Earth are there so many people freaking out about what these scientists have done?

Re:RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40410223)

No, yes no ferrets, died. But is this the mysterious virus that excaped the lab, about 3-4 summers ago, in the chezk republic that killed the homeless, Which was released by the losing of a ferret? test scenario? I'll bet PETA was for this.

They published how to weaponize a virus (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40408563)

... why do we even bother? You know what... everyone get a nuke, everyone weaponize your virus of choice... why bother trying to preserve any semblance of world peace. Lets just nuke each other and get it over with...

Fire up the virology labs... lets make doomsday bugs. Sure billions might die but it's in the cause of science... and of course, lets tell every tin pot psychotic dictatorship how to make it.

put it in the drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40408887)

then they'll get it

Unanswered questions (3, Interesting)

miketheanimal (914328) | about 2 years ago | (#40409707)

Back when H5N1 was doing the rounds, my wife had a long running worse-than-average but not debilitating chest infection which came and went over two or three months; I had something pretty similar; and lots of people we know and work with had much the same. But none of us or them were ever diagnosed as having H5N1, because none of us got bad enough to see a doctor. My wife (a biologist who worked in an immunological research laboratory a while back) thinks that the H5N1 infection rate was really much much higher than it was supposed to be, but the infection was much much less severe than H5N1 was hyped to be in all those cases. If she's right - and it seems pretty plausible to me - then H5N1 was just not the risk it was painted as. Granted it was nastier than the average flu bug, but nothing like governments would have us believe. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Who are these "scientists" psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40410461)

and the psychopaths who fund them?

The first step to a vaccine... (1)

nikonian (2600077) | about 2 years ago | (#40410577)

...is to share the data. This fear mongering around the virus research is very similar to the state of mind that existed around symmetric crypto before AES came along. Open sourcing this study material will bring the best minds around the world to work on mitigating a potential epidemic. We can only hope its not too late, humanity has already lost half a year's time as a result of the decision to withhold the results. In fact, this censorship may have done more harm than good by bringing even more media attention to this virus. Now every that terrorist in the world knows "bird flu == potential pandemic", please report any suspicious behavior of people kissing chickens or ferrets to your nearest police station. I can just see the next Team America sequel going - "You in the robes, put down those chickens of mass destruction!"

Re:The first step to a vaccine... (1)

nikonian (2600077) | about 2 years ago | (#40410665)

Excuse the noob question, but can anyone tell me what happened to the formatting in my post? It looked fine in Notepad++ & when I pasted it into Slashdot!

Re:The first step to a vaccine... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#40411325)

Go into options and set "comment post mode" to "plain old text". Otherwise you need to do the formatting manually with line break tags and such.

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