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Expert unease over deadly flu virus 'created' in Dutch laboratory

Friday 25 November 2011

Dutch scientists have created a flu virus which is so deadly there is doubt about whether the research should be published, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.

The paper says American experts are worried detailed information could fall into the wrong hands and that terrorists could recreate the virus as a weapon. The fears are notable because the work was carried out on behalf of the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The research team, led by Ron Fouchier, professor of virology at Erasmus teaching hospital, was able to create a highly infectious variant of the bird flu virus H5N1. H5N1 rarely transfers from animal to human, but if it does, the infection is often fatal.


Fouchier was asked to find out if H5N1 could lead to a pandemic and was able to show that a couple of mutations in the virus dna changed it into an extremely virulent form. Japanese researchers have also made similar findings, the paper says.

Fouchier then offered an article on his findings to scientific journal Science which asked a US institute for bio-security to examine the result. That institute told the US government the research could be threatening to public health and security.

The Volkskrant says Fouchier is unwilling to comment on the situation because he does not want to prejudice the expert opinion. Both his and the Japanese research are currently being scrutinised.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Why would you want to create such a horrible thing?

By Jason | 25 November 2011 9:51 AM

So a deadly flu virus was created in a Dutch lab, on behalf of the USA !. Why don't they create it in their own countryor are they worried that if it gets out, it will create death and panic amongst the Yanks ?. The Dutch are obviously despensible !

By Karl H | 25 November 2011 10:14 AM

I fail to see the difference between a deadly virus and a nuclear bomb: both are deadly & made for the sole purpose of killing humans, disgusting!

By The visitor | 25 November 2011 1:53 PM

Perhaps it would have been money well spent on creating a vaccination for the virus instead.

By none | 25 November 2011 2:22 PM

This research raises horroric question of what else has been manufactured in laboratory by the Dutch scientists ? List could be long, when scientists start to play gods in nature, the rest of the public helpless and on the receiving end of all the experimental results. God help us again !!! What are the americans going to do with this highly dangerous virus, who are they planning to contaminate this time ? Eramus teaching hospital could make their name into history books in the future, responsible for doomsday plague.

By Antivirus | 25 November 2011 4:03 PM

Things are not as simplistic as some portray: "creating" enhanced versions of a virus is a common technique to facilitate its studying more or less like weakening a virus and encapsulating it is a technique to manufacture certain vaccines.

By Andre L. | 25 November 2011 5:31 PM

Perhaps if Professor Fouchier doesn't get his all important paper published, it will deter others from agreeing to do such a stupid thing!

By Steve | 25 November 2011 5:31 PM

Not well thought out before this research started, and we have our lives in the balance from such so called "Scientists", says much for the Dutch!

By AndyT | 25 November 2011 5:32 PM

'American experts are worried detailed information could fall into the wrong hands', hmmmm... and the US government, the National Institutes of Health in the US and a US institute for bio-security are 'safe hands'?

By jaycee | 25 November 2011 5:33 PM

Oh terrific! Now our health and lives are dependent on how secure Dutch security is, which we know they are terrible at. And it's even more troubling that all those who would want to do harm with such virus now know that it's here, in good ole Holland.

By Quince | 25 November 2011 5:49 PM

The Spanish flu that followed World War 1 killed more people than the fighting. In a bomb vs virus scenario, the virus is far, far worse. We all know that governments are already negotiating a price for this, regardless of their public soundbites: they have no morals. This scientist is a very stupid (or narcisstic) man for making his 'best work' public knowledge: he should have heeded the words of Oppenheimer who lived to see the horror of his own creation used against humankind.

By osita | 25 November 2011 6:40 PM

This flu virus is more like a neutron bomb that leaves the buildings untouched but kills the humans. Wonderful.

By Josh | 25 November 2011 7:42 PM

Perhaps it would have been money well spent on creating a vaccination for the virus instead.

Don't be silly, that would mean a government actually doing something the people wanted!

By DougNL | 25 November 2011 8:07 PM

The purpose in the experiment was to determine the probability of such a transition taking place under natural circumstances. Many do not realize that Nature is constantly carrying out such experiments. Eventually, the combination will take place without the involvement of science.

By Oldmusher | 26 November 2011 5:48 AM

Why do you guys have so much venom against dutch. For any news, you bash this country. Guys, its a great country. More liberal than any others. Please give some respect to it; its giving all you guys shelter mind it.

By Sup | 26 November 2011 8:20 AM

Relax guys, the Dutch and Japanese were studing if H1N1 COULD go super virulent. The only sure way to do this is to engineer a virus that does. Now if the virus does go this path, we can already have a cure to stop it.

By Kevin | 26 November 2011 9:55 AM

Few year hence, the world will be told that this man-made virus originated from some African (where else) Chimp!

For how long would we be subjected to a Science without a Conscience?

By Femi Akomolafe | 26 November 2011 12:18 PM

Expert unease over deadly flu virus 'created' in Dutch laboratory. Viruses are very simple things the
H5N1 description is also quite simple the H part is the  hemagglutinin with get a virus in a cell the other part the N part is Neuroaminidase how the bug gets out. Variation of the H part and the N part course for concern. We have a few problems Which can be solved

By Terence Hale | 26 November 2011 1:58 PM

The impact of infectious agents have influenced and affected societies of every generation in human history. Some of these microbial agents which could intentionally be used as weapons in wars should challenge researchers and governments to develop new policies and build practical countermeasures where germs or lab created viruses might be used as weapons. Prevention would have been a wiser choice in research rather than creating viruses that could ultimately be used to generate chaos and fear. Instead of solely blaming the US for their ignorance; the Dutch should also focus on these researchers who could sell their findings to the highest bidder.

By Kati | 26 November 2011 5:03 PM

This is how the us skirts around the law. We outlawed bioweapons labs I suggest you do the same in your country soon.

By Anon | 26 November 2011 6:43 PM

Thats exactly what they want to do..is to get every one to get vaccinated,,,this is a scare tactic...vaccinations are real killer...

By tina | 26 November 2011 11:39 PM

The purpose is to better understand the disease since it`s first needed in order to create a vaccine for it. But it goes with saying extreme care is always needed when dealing with such research.

By Dave | 27 November 2011 1:08 AM

If the virus is created then there are billions to be made creating the antidote. Capitalism is always about making more money, not about ethical behavior.

By average serf | 27 November 2011 1:29 AM

Thank you Dutch News for reporting this. None of the papers in the US have touched it. INFOWARS.COM

By Terry Moore | 27 November 2011 6:49 PM

That's probably why they create it, to make vaccines for it. If you can create a vaccine for the strongest variant, then you can have a vaccine for the less strong mutations as well.

Also, the Dutch had to decide to take on this project, Karl. It's not like US was forcing them at gunpoint. I understand your thoughts, but seriously.

By Holly | 28 November 2011 7:56 AM

Before damning all the researchers as horrible people, do a bit of research yourselves. They are making the mutations of H5N1 so they can understand the virus better an attempt to come up w/ vaccinations/treatments BEFORE it happens in the wild.

By Jamie | 28 November 2011 12:27 PM

Jamie "making mutations of H5N1" ? Researchers would need a lot of variables to figure out how many mutations can be made from the H5N1 virus. I think the point is basically that if any country has the capability to use any strain of virus as a biological weapon; would their military consider using it against their enemy? The answer in the US is Yes. Researchers often fail to examine the “what if” scenario. What if innocent people are exposed or if such a virus becomes airborne or somehow spread through a host (carrier). Exposed virus areas could lead to widespread quarantines which could bring travel, etc. to a standstill until a specific antibody vaccine is created.

By Kati | 28 November 2011 5:48 PM

The fact that this was made for the sake of research and could just as easily lead to new vaccinations as the opposite aside... something WILL get us not too far from now. If we can't fix population problems ourselves then Nature's gonna do it for us and if Nature does it for us it's NOT gonna be pretty. I say we should at least conduct research like this to better understand what we'd be up against.

By Iggy | 29 November 2011 5:25 AM

Complimentary I would also stress something important, the antiviral drugs at the moment tackle the N part Neuroaminidase, Oseltamivir (Tamiflu ) for example which only work in a short time frame. We must tackle the H part hemagglutinin to stop the bug getting into the cell. Prof.  Fouchier and his team should look at this.
Regards Dr. Terence Hale

By Terence Hale | 29 November 2011 5:28 AM

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