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Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

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  • Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

    Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

    By Jason Gale and Simeon Bennett


    May 12 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization is investigating an Australian researcher’s claim that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.


    Adrian Gibbs, 75, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu drug, said in an interview today that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said that he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.

    The World Health Organization received the study last weekend and is reviewing it, Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s assistant director-general of health security and environment, said in an interview yesterday. Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus that was identified three weeks ago in Mexico and threatens to touch off the first flu pandemic since 1968.

    A virus that resulted from lab experimentation or vaccine production may indicate a greater need for security, Fukuda said. By pinpointing the source of the virus, scientists also may better understand the microbe’s potential for spreading and causing illness, Gibbs said.

    Caution

    “The sooner we get to grips with where it’s come from, the safer things might become,” Gibbs said in a telephone interview from Canberra today. “It could be a mistake” that occurred at a vaccine production facility or the virus could have jumped from a pig to another mammal or a bird before reaching humans, he said.

    Gibbs and two colleagues analyzed the publicly available sequences of hundreds of amino acids coded by each of the flu virus’s eight genes. He said he aims to submit his three-page paper tomorrow for publication in a medical journal.

    “You really want a very sober assessment” of the science behind the claim, Fukuda said yesterday at the WHO’s Geneva headquarters.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has received the report and has decided there is no evidence to support Gibbs’s conclusion, said Nancy Cox, director of the agency’s influenza division. She said since researchers don’t have samples of swine flu viruses from South America and Africa, where the new strain may have evolved, those regions can’t be ruled out as natural sources for the new flu.
    No Evidence

    “We are interested in the origins of this new influenza virus,” she said. “But contrary to what the author has found, when we do the comparisons that are most relevant, there is no evidence that this virus was derived by passage in eggs.

    The WHO’s collaborative influenza research centers, which includes the CDC, and sites in Memphis, Melbourne, London and Tokyo, were asked by the international health agency to review the study over the weekend, Fukuda said. The request was extended to scientists at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris, as well as the WHO’s influenza network yesterday, he said.

    “My guess is that the picture should be a lot clearer over the next few days,” Fukuda said. “We have asked a lot of people to look at this.”

    Lab Escape

    Gibbs wrote or co-authored more than 250 scientific publications on viruses during his 39-year career at the Australian National University in Canberra, according to biographical information on the university’s Web site.

    Swine flu has infected 5,251 people in 30 countries so far, killing 61. Scientists are trying to determine whether the virus will mutate and become more deadly if it spreads to the Southern Hemisphere and back. Flu pandemics occur when a strain of the disease to which few people have immunity evolves and spreads.

    Gibbs said his analysis supports research by scientists including Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, who found the new strain is the product of two distinct lineages of influenza that have circulated among swine in North America and Europe for more than a decade.
    In addition, his research found the rate of genetic mutation in the new virus outpaced that of the most closely related viruses found in pigs, suggesting it evolved outside of swine, Gibbs said.

    Some scientists have speculated that the 1977 Russian flu, the most recent global outbreak, began when a virus escaped from a laboratory.

    Other Theories?

    Identifying the source of new flu viruses is difficult without finding the exact strain in an animal or bird “reservoir,” said Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin, a virologist at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization in Melbourne.

    “If you can’t find an exact match, the best you can do is compare sequences,” she said. “Similarities may give an indication of a possible source, but this remains theoretical.”

    The World Organization for Animal Health, which represents chief veterinary officers from 174 countries, received the Gibbs paper and is working with WHO on an assessment, said Maria Zampaglione, a spokeswoman.

    The WHO wants to know whether any evidence that the virus may have been developed in a laboratory can be corroborated and whether there are other explanations for its particular genetic patterns, according to Fukuda.

    ‘Wild Idea’

    These things have to be dealt with straight on,” he said. “If someone makes a hypothesis, then you test it and you let scientific process take its course.”

    Gibbs said he has no evidence that the swine-derived virus was a deliberate, man-made product.


    “I don’t think it could be a malignant thing,” he said. “It’s much more likely that some random thing has put these two viruses together.”

    Gibbs, who spent most of his academic career studying plant viruses, said his major contribution to the study of influenza occurred in 1975, while collaborating with scientists Graeme Laver and Robert Webster in research that led to the development of the anti-flu medicines Tamiflu and Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

    “We were out on one of the Barrier Reef islands, off Australia, catching birds for the flu in them, and I happened to be the guy who caught the best,” Gibb said. The bird he got “yielded the poo from which was isolated the influenza isolate strain from which all the work on Tamiflu and Relenza started.”
    Gibbs, who says he studies the evolution of flu viruses as a “retirement hobby,” expects his research to be challenged by other scientists.

    “This is how science progresses,” he said. “Somebody comes up with a wild idea, and then they all pounce on it and kick you to death, and then you start off on another silly idea.”

    To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Gale in Geneva at j.gale@bloomberg.net; Simeon Bennett in Singapore at sbennett9@bloomberg.net.
    Last Updated: May 12, 2009 12:08 EDT


    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...fer=industries


  • #2
    Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

    This is nonsense. No one has this swine H1N1 in a lab (prior to collection of human samples). This will feed the internet rumor mill for decades.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

      I think that is about as valid a study as the one that calculates the case fatality rate for the first 2 weeks of an acknowledged disease event in which 1000 confirmed cases in Mexico are evaluated and then extrapolated for the world.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

        What makes CDC think that this evolved in Africa or S. America? How can they say that without samples?

        Why are so many people persisting in the idea that this virus must have an exotic beginning as opposed following normal influence evolution through reassortment and recombination occuring in places that have high populations of influenza carrying species?

        .
        "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

          Or, about as valid as the company that advocated world wide, within a week of the acknowledged outbreak, that it knew the exact spot and date of the initial outbreak. More

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim
            Gibbs said he has no evidence that the swine-derived virus was a deliberate, man-made product.

            Enough said...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

              Not even contemplating the possibility that some virus could be acidentaly artificialy helped to later emerge less or more naturaly out, scientificaly is not correct.
              Such things COULD happens.

              And they need not to be deliberated.

              Give room to the scientist to prove its claims.

              This starts to like as the derision or negation from the various a century ago scientific Academies, when the various avanturistic researchers came to make their new discoveries or claims from Africa/America/....

              #1: "It's much more likely that some random thing has put these two viruses together."

              As the random thing put together the two virus in Austria ...

              With no hard feelings,
              this researcher and the other folks there, are enaugh in this matter to be careful with claims.

              If to the above we added their soon publishing about on a scientific journal, this claim can't be so easy dismissed.

              Science was full of copernicans changings many times during history.

              After the c.w. bchem depots, decades of bioengeneering, an acidental release, or an tampering result at the field with these corporate proliferated vet vaccines, many of which (as we read here also) must be currently worldwide destroyed because faked, failured, or old, are enaugh facts to checks all the claims.

              All of the human invented applyed technology were subject to many errors and had got an enormous number of fallouts during the century.

              So the proliferation of microbe patenting and this multi treatings of industrial caged and raised animals have enaugh free degrees of errors making, especialy when applyed on the field.

              If somebody think that this is an 100% pure stohastic natural event, then it must also exist a scientific way to prove this 100% genuinity, and to make a comparation on the scientific arena field which proves are stronger and more factualy supported.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                Anything is possible. But is it probable?

                I wonder if these scientists subscribe to the fact that migratory birds play a large role in global disease transmission.

                The paper will be a very interesting read.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                  Originally posted by niman View Post
                  This is nonsense. No one has this swine H1N1 in a lab (prior to collection of human samples). This will feed the internet rumor mill for decades.

                  This is going to be the Flu equivalent to the media rumor mill - as the appeal of the TX Gov. John Connley 'mystery' bullet trajectory was in the 1963 Kennedy assignation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                    where is his website ?
                    the paper should be there
                    I'm interested in expert panflu damage estimates
                    my current links: http://bit.ly/hFI7H ILI-charts: http://bit.ly/CcRgT

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                      > ?It could be a mistake? that occurred at a vaccine production
                      > facility

                      where would they have that strain from ? It's a new virus

                      > or the virus could have jumped from a pig to another mammal
                      > or a bird before reaching humans, he said.

                      why should it ? swine human happened in similar viruses
                      swine2bird2human ? never heard about that
                      what other mammal ? (and why ?)

                      > Gibbs and two colleagues analyzed the publicly available sequences
                      > of hundreds of amino acids coded by each of the flu virus?s eight genes.

                      why amino acids and not nucleotides ?
                      I'm interested in expert panflu damage estimates
                      my current links: http://bit.ly/hFI7H ILI-charts: http://bit.ly/CcRgT

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                        Originally posted by Florida1 View Post
                        I think that is about as valid a study as the one that calculates the case fatality rate for the first 2 weeks of an acknowledged disease event in which 1000 confirmed cases in Mexico are evaluated and then extrapolated for the world.
                        Not even close. To have a lab mishap, you need the parental strains in the lab.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                          Originally posted by niman View Post
                          ........ To have a lab mishap, you need the parental strains in the lab.
                          So this idea that it may have come from Africa assumes there is a BIO-3 lab in some dark mysterious corner of Africa using Africa-exclusive parental strains which have never been seen by the rest of the world.

                          If they were talking about AIDS, I'd at least believe the parental strains part.

                          .
                          "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                            To have a lab mishap, you need the parental strains in the lab.
                            Didn't those parental strains exist before? I'm confused ...I saw picture diagrams of where they came from somewhere. Pigs birds humans ... then pigs.

                            Doesn't Smithfield Foods make its own vaccines for swine flu because it evolves so fast... could whoever makes vaccines for them have had those strains lying about?
                            Last edited by nomadic wench; May 12, 2009, 01:38 PM. Reason: forgot quote

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Swine Flu May Be Human Error, Scientist Says; WHO Probes Claim

                              Originally posted by AlaskaDenise View Post
                              So this idea that it may have come from Africa assumes there is a BIO-3 lab in some dark mysterious corner of Africa using Africa-exclusive parental strains which have never been seen by the rest of the world.

                              If they were talking about AIDS, I'd at least believe the parental strains part.

                              .
                              No. No one is claiming a lab product, except Gibbs (and I strong doubt that he has any evidence to support a lab sequence). The North America and Africa claims come from sequence homology, and have nothing to do with lab isolates.

                              Comment

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