Playing With Fire

That’s the only way I can describe this:

SCIENTISTS have recreated the 1918 Spanish flu virus, one of the deadliest ever to emerge, to the alarm of many researchers who fear it presents a serious security risk.

Undisclosed quantities of the virus are being held in a high-security government laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, after a nine-year effort to rebuild the agent that swept the globe in record time and claimed the lives of an estimated 50 million people.

The genetic sequence is also being made available to scientists online, a move which some fear adds a further risk of the virus being created in other labs.
When injected into mice, it quickly took hold and they started to lose weight rapidly, shedding 13% of their original weight in just two days. Within six days, all mice injected with the virus had died.

Tests revealed that the Spanish flu virus multiplied so rapidly that after four days, mice contained 39,000 times more flu virus than those injected with [a] more common strain of flu.

Less than three weeks ago, lab mice infected with bubonic plague escaped from a lab in New Jersey. Since that lab engaged in bioterrorism research for the Defense Department, one would assume that it, too, is a “high-security” facility.

This is beginning to sound like the plot of my wife’s novel The Armageddon Strain.

Now, remember that the president just announced that he wants the military to be the first responders to an outbreak of avian flu. It’s safe to guess that Spanish flu or bubonic plague would also qualify for a military response to contain a deadly disease outbreak. Laws would have to be rewritten to make it possible, and our representatives have been asked to get to it.

In other words, we’re being told that we face problems that a constitutional form of government cannot solve. That sounds like my forthcoming novel, The God Conspiracy.

I’d like to be proud of our foresight, but there’s no cause for celebration here.


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