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"Online 'recipes' for bird flu virus add to bioterrorism threat!" No. No, they don't.

"Online 'recipes' for bird flu virus add to bioterrorism threat!" No. No, they don't. | Virology News | Scoop.it
The means of engineering potentially deadly avian influenza is freely available on the internet.

Despite continuing global efforts to contain avian influenza, or bird flu, the means of engineering this potentially deadly H5N1 virus to render it transmissible to humans is freely available on the internet. So too are similar instructions for engineering a virus like the "Spanish flu", which killed some 50 million people in the pandemic of 1918-19.

The digital floodgates opened in 2011 when a peak US regulatory watchdog came down in favour of scientists seeking to publishing their work engineering the H5N1 virus. The decision to uphold such "scientific freedom" was and remains, highly contentious among the global scientific community. Its implications, however, are readily available as online "recipes" for potentially dangerous viruses, which add a new risk to the already considerable challenges of maintaining global biosecurity in the 21st century. For all the recent advances in biomedical science, drugs, vaccines and technology, this is a challenge we remain ill-equipped to meet.



Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/online-recipes-for-contagious-diseases-means-australias-bioterrorism-threat-is-real-20151208-gli97v.html#ixzz3tvWn63AE ;
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Ed Rybicki's insight:

OFFS: seriously!  Again?!  Someone else has just discovered that entire virus genomes are freely available via PubMed, along with papers on gain-of-function experiments, and immediately leaps to the conclusion that this means "...the means of engineering this potentially deadly H5N1 virus to render it transmissible to humans is freely available on the internet".

I'm sorry, this is being simple-minded to the point of parody.  I have written elsewhere - in ViroBlogy, and in Nature Biotech's Bioentrepreneur blog section - on how it is MOST unlikely that bearded fellows in caves in Afghanistan or remote farms in Montana are going to whip up weaponised batches of H5N1 flu or Ebola.

Yes, the papers are available; yes, the sequences necessary to make a potentially (and I say potentially advisedly) deadly virus are available online.

But could anyone outside of a sophisticated lab environment use these to make anything nasty?

No.

Seriously, no.

Just think about what you would need to make weaponised flu, for example.  There are two ways to go here, these being the totally synthetic route ("mail order" DNA - HATE that term!), with some serious molecular biology and cell culture at the end of it, and the "natural" route - which would involve getting a natural and nasty isolate of H5N1 / H7N9 / H9N2, and being able to culture it and engineer it as well.

Both routes require a minimum of a serious 4-yr-degree-level training in microbiology / mol biol, as well as laboratory resources that would include incubators, biohazard cabinets, and disposables and reagents that are not on your normal terrorist's priority purchase list.

In fact, the kinds of resources you'd find at a University or Institute Infectious Disease unit - or state-sponsored biowarfare lab.

Seriously, now: in order to use the information that is "freely available", you'd have to do what amounts to an entire postgrad degree's worth of work just to set up the kinds of reverse genetics necessary to WORK with recombinant flu, presuming you already had an isolate, and even more than that if you were to start with synthesised DNA and try to recreate infectious virus.

Again, this is the kind of work they do in biowarfare / biodefence labs (funny how they're the same thing, isn't it?) - because it's finicky, expensive, laborious - and potentially dangerous to the researcher.

And it's interesting that the only rumoured escapes of biowarfare agents have been of flu in 1977 in the old Soviet Union, and of anthrax in Sverdlovsk in the USSR in 1979. And in the US in 2001, and again in 2014.  ALL of them from official facilities, I will discreetly point out.

Oh, there have been rumours that Saddam's Iraq weaponised camelpox; that the USSR/Russia cloned Ebola into a poxvirus; that Al-Qaeda tested anthrax - but the first two took state resources, and if the third happened at all, it's nothing that the UK and USA and friends hadn't already done in the 1940s.

IT IS NOT THAT EASY TO MAKE RECOMBINANT VIRUSES.

Seriously.

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Britain gives first European approval to Valneva COVID shot

Britain gives first European approval to Valneva COVID shot | Virology News | Scoop.it
Britain approved Valneva's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, becoming the first European country to clear the use of the French firm's shot in a move that boosted its shares by more than 20%.
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North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries without vaccines

North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries without vaccines | Virology News | Scoop.it
North Korea, like Eritrea, has refused to join vaccine-sharing initiatives....
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South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron 

South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron  | Virology News | Scoop.it
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts. For about three weeks the country has seen increasing numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but not increases in severe cases and...
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Safety and Immunogenicity of BNT162b2 Coadministered With SIIV in Adults 18 Through 64 Years of Age

Safety and Immunogenicity of BNT162b2 Coadministered With SIIV in Adults 18 Through 64 Years of Age - Full Text View.
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A rapid water bath PCR combined with lateral flow assay for the simultaneous detection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza B virus

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in significant global health and economic threats to the human society.
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Covid nasal spray could be next leap in coronavirus vaccine development

Covid nasal spray could be next leap in coronavirus vaccine development | Virology News | Scoop.it
A nasal spray could block the transmission of Covid-19, scientists say...
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A Brutal Wave of Bird Flu Spotlights the Need for a Poultry Vaccine

A Brutal Wave of Bird Flu Spotlights the Need for a Poultry Vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
More than 27 million birds have died or been slaughtered, and wild birds are dying too. Without a shot, farmers have to rely on vigilance and culling their flocks.
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Requirements for the Packaging of Geminivirus Circular Single-Stranded DNA: Effect of DNA Length and Coat Protein Sequence

Requirements for the Packaging of Geminivirus Circular Single-Stranded DNA: Effect of DNA Length and Coat Protein Sequence | Virology News | Scoop.it
Geminivirus particles, consisting of a pair of twinned isometric structures, have one of the most distinctive capsids in the virological world. Until recently, there was little information as to how these structures are generated.
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Malaria vaccine reaches more than one million children in Africa

Malaria vaccine reaches more than one million children in Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it
The vaccination programme was launched in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in 2019...
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Novavax Reports its COVID-19 Influenza Combination Vaccine is Well-Tolerated, Provides Immune Response

Novavax Reports its COVID-19 Influenza Combination Vaccine is Well-Tolerated, Provides Immune Response | Virology News | Scoop.it
The investigational vaccine's findings from their phase 1/2 clinical trial were reported at the World Vaccine Congress....
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Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were three times as likely to die than those with seasonal influenza

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were three times as likely to die than those with seasonal influenza | Virology News | Scoop.it
Adults (aged 18 or older) hospitalized with COVID-19 are at higher risk of complications and death than those with influenza, despite being younger and having fewer chronic illnesses, according to a retrospective cohort study conducted at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona.
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Record avian flu outbreak is threatening North America’s birds. Is the virus here to stay? 

Record avian flu outbreak is threatening North America’s birds. Is the virus here to stay?  | Virology News | Scoop.it
Farmers forced to kill millions of poultry amid worries for wild species...
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Nigeria: African Vaccination Week 2022 - Equitable Vaccine Access Can Help Build Resilient Communities

Nigeria: African Vaccination Week 2022 - Equitable Vaccine Access Can Help Build Resilient Communities | Virology News | Scoop.it
Blog - From the old (smallpox) to the new (COVID-19), for centuries, vaccines have helped save and promote healthier lives for people of all ages. In the last 2 decades, major gains in the development and production of vaccines have helped prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases.
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World's First Malaria Vaccine Expands Rollout

World's First Malaria Vaccine Expands Rollout | Virology News | Scoop.it
The results from a WHO pilot points to more countries in sub-Saharan Africa receiving the world's first malaria vaccine.
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Emerging Novel Reassortant Influenza A(H5N6) Viruses in Poultry and Humans, China, 2021

Emerging Novel Reassortant Influenza A(H5N6) Viruses in Poultry and Humans, China, 2021 | Virology News | Scoop.it
Emerging Novel Reassortant Influenza A(H5N6) Viruses in Poultry and Humans, China, 2021...
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Bird flu H5N1 spreads to foxes in US, 4 die –

Bird flu H5N1 spreads to foxes in US, 4 die – | Virology News | Scoop.it
New York:   Four red baby foxes in the US reportedly died in what is known as the first case of...
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Structure-based design of 5'-substituted 1,2,3-triazolylated oseltamivir derivatives as potent influenza neuraminidase inhibitors

Resistant viruses containing mutant neuraminidases (NAs) with diminished drug affinity continue to emerge, and new anti-influenza agents are urgently required.Several potent inhibitors targeting the hydrophobic 150-cavity of viral NAs have been developed by modifying the antiviral drugs, oseltamivi...
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From Outbreak to Near Disappearance: How Did Non-pharmaceutical Interventions Against COVID-19 Affect the Transmission of Influenza Virus?

Influenza shares the same putative transmission pathway with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and causes tremendous morbidity and mortality annually globally.Since the transmission of COVID-19 in China, a series of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) against to the disease have been impleme...
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Estimating the life course of influenza A(H3N2) antibody responses from cross-sectional data

The immunity of a host population against specific influenza A strains can influence a number of important biological processes, from the emergence of new virus strains to the effectiveness of vaccination programmes.
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Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine factory has not received a single order 

Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine factory has not received a single order  | Virology News | Scoop.it
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many African countries have lagged far behind much of the world in getting their people vaccinated — and some countries have had difficulty distributing what doses they did get.
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Left-Handed Nanoparticle Adjuvant Boosts Flu Vaccine Efficacy in Mice by 25%

Left-Handed Nanoparticle Adjuvant Boosts Flu Vaccine Efficacy in Mice by 25% | Virology News | Scoop.it
Tests on human immune cells showed that chiral nanoparticles induced an immune response even in the absence of antigen.
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Aspen In Talks With African Leaders on Low Covid Vaccine Orders - BNN Bloomberg

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Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. is in talks with African leaders about how to raise demand for Covid-19 vaccines after the continent’s biggest drugmaker warned a lack of orders may force it to stop making the shots.
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NJ homeowners need to get rid of bird feeders immediately

NJ homeowners need to get rid of bird feeders immediately | Virology News | Scoop.it
Wildlife researchers say there’s an outbreak of bird flu. Your bird feeder is helping spread it.
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Serum Stops Making Covid Vaccines With 200 Million Doses Spare

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(Bloomberg) -- Serum Institute of India Ltd., the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and a key supplier of Covid-19 inoculations to developing countries, has stopped making fresh batches of shots after its stockpile grew to 200 million doses amid a global supply glut.
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How the lessons of COVID-19 might apply to containing avian influenza 

How the lessons of COVID-19 might apply to containing avian influenza  | Virology News | Scoop.it
Avian influenza is spreading quickly across Canada, resulting in poultry flocks being culled and farmers seeing their livelihoods threatened. Chicken farmers Ray Nickel and Peggy Ife explain how their farms have been affected by the virus.
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