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Posted Thu Jun 12 2014: from Mother Jones:
Is It "Madness" to Rebuild a Flu Virus That Wiped Out 50 Million People?
Remember the Spanish Flu of 1918? Of course you don't. That's the freakishly deadly influenza strain that swept the globe in 1918 and 1919, wiping out 30 million to 50 million people. It infected about one in four Americans and killed about 675,000. It didn't just kill little kids and the elderly, either, like most flu strains. This one was unusually devastating in young, healthy people--although why the "mother of all pandemics" behaved as it did is not fully understood.... "To assess the risk of emergence of a 1918-like virus and to delineate the amino acid changes that are needed for such a virus to become transmissible via respiratory droplets in mammals, we attempted to generate an influenza virus composed of avian influenza viral segments that encoded proteins with high homology to the 1918 viral proteins," he and his coauthors wrote. Needless to say, some of Kawaoka's scientific peers think he's insane to do such a thing.
[Read more stories about: technical cleverness, unintended consequences, overpopulation]
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'Doc Michael says:
Well, we could stand to lose a little weight. Say, a billion or two.

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