On 6 May Ars published a story about some Chinese scientists who were trying to see if they could make avian flu better transmit to mammals. They claimed the point was to better study how it is that these viruses mutate to become infectious to mammals. However, the scientists used guinea pigs for some reason. For some reason left unexplained in the article, guinea pigs have both mammalian and avian receptors so they’re susceptible to avian viruses anyway! But the biggest problem, as pointed out by Robert May, is that this is China. You know…the country that has lead in toothpaste. He posited that we can’t really trust them to keep the virus contained if they do create a mammalian supervirus. A bit of an elitist attitude from the West? Maybe, but China doesn’t exactly have the best track record on doing stuff up to Western standards. Just one mistake and we have all those crazy infection movies coming true. It’s especially not worth it since other experts quoted in the article also say that you can’t really learn a lot about how to prevent or limit the spread of the mutated flu in the wild with the kind of study they were doing. They almost come across looking like a real life version of Aperture Science.
We do what we must because we can.
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead.