Kristine Lofgren

Scientists Just Created a Virus With the Potential to Wipe Out Humanity

by , 07/05/14

Kawaoka, Professor Kawaoka, H1N1, H1N1 supervirus, supervirus, spreading supervirus, Professor makes supervirus., biohazard, University of Wisconsin Madison, bio manipulation, creating viruses, changing viruses, H1N1 evolving virus, virus evolution, Contagion, virus contagion, horror movies, virus movies

It’s like something you would expect out of a horror movie, but this story is unfortunately all true. A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – ignoring every virus-related thriller ever – recently created a strain of the H1N1 virus that can escape the human body and spread practically unchecked. Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka says that he wanted to study the virus so that he and his fellow researchers could get a better understanding of how viruses change in nature and, like any good thriller movie requires, he did it in a lab with a relatively low biosafety rating.

Kawaoka, Professor Kawaoka, H1N1, H1N1 supervirus, supervirus, spreading supervirus, Professor makes supervirus., biohazard, University of Wisconsin Madison, bio manipulation, creating viruses, changing viruses, H1N1 evolving virus, virus evolution, Contagion, virus contagion, horror movies, virus movies

You may remember H1N1 as the virus that killed 500,000 people a few years ago, spreading panic across the globe. Most people have developed immunity to the virus, so it isn’t the terror that it once was. But Kawaoka wanted to bring the virus back to its pre-pandemic version so that he could better understand how it evolved and became pandemic in the first place. Which sounds great in theory, and may help provide valuable insight, but the level two biosafety rating in the lab seems like the sort of situation ripe for error.

Related: Plant Based Vaccines Grown in Podlike Labs Could Stop the Next Pandemic

The University of Wisconsin-Madison says that there is no risk that the virus could escape and spread. And while Kawaoka acknowledges that there is risk with any research, he says that his team was careful to mitigate any potential problems. Which is exactly what you would expect the movie-professor to say just before the virus gets out into the population. Fortunately, Kawaoka’s research has been completed and he is submitting his findings to a scientific journal, so hopefully the world is now safe from the viral menace. For now.

Via Gizmodo

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via NIAID

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6 Comments

  1. Gary Ellmes July 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    A far worse virus is the ‘Politician’…they’ve killed far more people in history than anything else.

  2. Social Entrepreneur July 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Many wrong things with this story: 1st of all scientists have already created viruses to wipe us all out (remember aids and ebola?…they didn’t just spontaneously appear, let’s just make that clear). And secondly, why would a Phd perform this kind a research in a lab with a relatively “low biosafety rating”? …Shouldn’t high safety rating be a prerequisite?

    Totally absurd.

  3. Kristianna Thomas July 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Remember Killer Bees began the same way; till they escaped and are still wander free killing people periodically as victims stumble onto their hives. They will never escape from our labs.

  4. acarchitek July 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    500,000 is almost double the number reported by the CDC, which was their best ESTIMATE and 15 times the actual laboratory-confirmed cases.

  5. aclerc1941 July 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Don’t worry, God is still in charge here.

  6. Roy De Vos July 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Oh boy ….. there goes the neighbourhood ….

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