The next global pandemic is out there somewhere, and in today’s highly connected world, it could easily spread. The Guardian have an excellent long read on this, in which the reporter Alok Jha talks about how a potential new pandemic could occur, what we need to look out for in detecting it, and what we can do to stop it.
I found the interview with Fouchier the most interesting, where he talks about how he managed to mutate the H5N1 flu virus to an airborne form, and all it takes is five mutations in the genetic sequence. Should we be working on trying to make viruses more virulent to humans, in an effort to understand them better? I’m firmly in the “yes” camp on this, as the more knowledge and understanding we have of viruses, the more we can develop ways to combat them.
This research also gives insight into the ethics of working on viruses. Over at Science / AAAS, they detail the legal battle that was lost by Fouchier, on whether he could publish his scientific paper on H5N1.
Where do you think the next global pandemic will come from? And do you agree with censoring certain scientific studies? Onwards!