Recreation of extinct virus raises concern in the scientific community

As the world stills struggles with aftermaths of Ebola, Zika, and Avian flu virus, among other viral diseases, the recreation of extinct viruses by scientists has raised concern for fear that the technology could fall into the hands of wrong people.


Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,  has warned that research on so-called potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs) is “exceptionally risky and has little public health benefit.

Dangerous pathogen research should be stopped—for good “Lipsitch wrote in a January 20, 2015 article in Scientific American.

Harvard Chan School news report that ‘after scientists at the University of Alberta put together from scratch a relative of the smallpox virus—horsepox—some experts are concerned that the ability to create such deadly pathogens will wind up in the wrong hands.’

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is concerned not so much about the research itself, which is aimed at fighting disease, but that rogue agents might use the advances in science to create killer diseases to use as biological weapons, he said in a July 7, 2017 STAT article.

“Demonstrating this can be done—and then writing newspaper articles about it and Science magazine articles—will get the attention of people who might want to use it for the wrong reasons and they might have never known about that,” said Lipsitch.

Read the STAT article: Scientists recreate an extinct virus, triggering new warnings about controversial research


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