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Author Topic: Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?  (Read 21511 times)

Offline thedoc

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« on: 15/12/2009 18:09:03 »
Where did the 2009 H1N1 swine influenza pandemic come from? This week we hear the evidence that this new 'flu may have escaped from a laboratory. We also explore rising rates of resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu, hear how 'flu vaccines are made and meet a mutant 'flu strain developed by scientists to protect the population. Plus, why soy cuts cancer recurrence rates, how a case of mistaken identity spells trouble for endangered fish, a computer model for unclogging coronary arteries and in Kitchen Science Ben and Dave measure the speed of a sneeze...
Listen to this Show

If you want to discuss this show, or ask a question, this is the place to do it.
« Last Edit: 15/12/2009 18:09:03 by _system »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #1 on: 15/12/2009 20:17:36 »
No, it wasn't.
Now, what's to discuss?
 

nixietube

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #2 on: 16/12/2009 11:04:56 »
I listend to the podcast on the way into work this morning. I have a couple questions...

What do they do with the 100's of millions of waste eggs after they have incubated and harvested the virus?

Can investigators ever find the source of the new virus, or are we left with best educated guesses?

There was mention of genetic sequences from parents not seen for many years. Is this always as a result of a stored virus being released or can a virus mutate back to a former version of itself?


 

Offline chris

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #3 on: 16/12/2009 20:07:53 »
No, it wasn't.
Now, what's to discuss?

Did you actually listen to the programme?
 

Ethos

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #4 on: 16/12/2009 20:31:33 »
The question: "Where did the 2009 H1N1 swine flu come from?"

FROM A PIG That would be my humble opinion. OK, maybe not so HUMBLE!
 

Offline chris

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #5 on: 17/12/2009 04:07:05 »
I suggest that you listen to the programme...
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #6 on: 17/12/2009 07:57:34 »
I heard a lot of speculation that it might have been, but I heard no evidence that it was.
 

Offline chris

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #7 on: 17/12/2009 20:05:01 »
Geezer: see above (I suggest that you listen to the programme...)

Chris ;)
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #8 on: 18/12/2009 04:50:19 »
Geezer: see above (I suggest that you listen to the programme...)

Chris ;)

I did, and, as I said, I heard a lot of speculation that it might have been, but I heard no evidence that it was.
 

Offline daveshorts

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #9 on: 18/12/2009 11:23:27 »
No evidence that it was is not necessarily the same as saying no evidence that it wasn't...that's the worry, to my mind.
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #10 on: 18/12/2009 16:39:50 »
Right. In the absense of evidence it is speculation. That's my only point.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #11 on: 01/01/2010 15:07:55 »
But there is evidence.

They've genetically sequenced it, and the 3 viruses that combined to make it were unlikely to have got together except in a lab.
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #12 on: 01/01/2010 20:02:35 »
But there is evidence.

They've genetically sequenced it, and the 3 viruses that combined to make it were unlikely to have got together except in a lab.

Yes. I understood that. However, that's not exactly conclusive evidence. I agree the virus could have evolved by less than natural means, but I think we need to be very careful about making suggestions of that nature without extremely robust evidence, unless we want to support yet another conspiracy theory.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #13 on: 01/01/2010 23:52:27 »
What would you want for evidence?

(c) mad virus labs inc. ™ 2008

written in the DNA?
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #14 on: 02/01/2010 00:46:13 »
Yes! That would work  ;D

Failing that, an independent validation of the results and some solid statistical analysis of the probabilities of natural versus unnatural combinations/mutations. Perhaps that has been done already, but I didn't get that impression.

Call me an old skeptic if you like, but I've been led down the garden path too many times in the past.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #15 on: 02/01/2010 12:03:27 »
But there is evidence.

They've genetically sequenced it, and .
Please cite your evidence for this assertion "the 3 viruses that combined to make it were unlikely to have got together except in a lab" (or was it just a personal opinion?)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #16 on: 02/01/2010 15:26:49 »
Well, according to the program the 3 viruses that combined were *pig* viruses that were last seen in North America, South East Asia and Europe.

Strangely, pigs don't fly (unlike birds that may be carrying bird flu); so how did they meet up?
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #17 on: 02/01/2010 20:13:49 »
Strangely, pigs don't fly


Actually, they do. All forms of livestock are regularly transported for breeding purposes.

Furthermore, humans jet about the planet in vast numbers. I'm not a virologist, but I would think it's not unlikely that the strains combined in a human.

BTW, I understand that pigs are greatly offended by the term "Swine Flu". They refer to H1N1 as the "Human Flu".
 

Offline Make it Lady

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #18 on: 02/01/2010 22:17:58 »
It is always convevient to explain away new scary viruses by saying, "It is those bloody scientists again messing with stuff they don't fully understand and then releasing it to the world."
I think Geezer is correct here in that livestock are much more well travelled these days and viruses could easily be transported around. I read somewhere that it is possible to transport  the flu virus to the moon by sneezing on equipment and leaving it behind so I think we underestimate how easy it is for these viruses to meet outside the laboratory. OK, the odds are high but that doesn't mean it is impossible. Full evidence is always good.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #19 on: 03/01/2010 00:49:45 »
The other factor is that one of the viruses is one used to make vaccinations. That's also suspicious.
 

Offline Geezer

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #20 on: 03/01/2010 02:39:12 »
Yes. There is reason to be suspicious, and we should take steps to ensure that it's extremely difficult for viruses to escape from labs. I'm sure the controls could use a tuneup from time to time.

However, I think we should also hear the opinions from some other renowned virologists who have studied the mechanisms of communication and mutation of influenza viruses. If they agree that it is highly unlikely that H1N1 could have formed outside a lab, I would defer to their expertise.

Remember, also, that extremely virulent strains of influenza have appeared without any direct assistance from scientists (because science had no means to study viruses) and at times when there was far less opportunity for rapid transmission from one part of the Earth to another part, as is the situation today.

It's not inconceivable that the large amount of international trade and travel that exists today has helped to prevent a repeat of the horrific pandemic that occurred in 1918, through natural incremental inoculation of the World population.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2010 02:42:04 by Geezer »
 

Offline chris

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #21 on: 11/01/2010 17:28:46 »
It is always convevient to explain away new scary viruses by saying, "It is those bloody scientists again messing with stuff they don't fully understand and then releasing it to the world."
I think Geezer is correct here in that livestock are much more well travelled these days and viruses could easily be transported around. I read somewhere that it is possible to transport  the flu virus to the moon by sneezing on equipment and leaving it behind so I think we underestimate how easy it is for these viruses to meet outside the laboratory. OK, the odds are high but that doesn't mean it is impossible. Full evidence is always good.

Actually, the point Adrian Gibbs made in the interview is that for animals to be the source, then quarantine would have to have broken down multiple times and all at once for several animals to have simultaneously arrived in the same place in the US and then cross-infect each other with the flu strains. This is vanishingly unlikely.

And, even if that had occurred, that still wouldn't explain where those animals came by the viruses they would have to have been carrying, given that the strains had not circulated in more than 10 years. i.e. the only place those viral strains existed otherwise, was in a laboratory freezer.

Therefore, the suspicion is high that the agent that became H1N1 human swine flu may well have emerged from a laboratory, or its emergence may well have been facilitated by laboratory handling of flu isolates.

In order to address this possibility, tests are being carried out on viral isolates from around the world to see whether we've got it wrong and, in fact, those strains have circulated more recently somewhere, albeit in a low-key or restricted geographical area, off our normal virological radar...
 

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Discuss: Was Swine 'Flu Man-Made?
« Reply #21 on: 11/01/2010 17:28:46 »

 

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