Chinese virologists hybridize deadly bird flu with highly contagious human flu.
Virologists at China’s National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory have been hybridizing H5N1 (bird flu) with the H1N1 human influenza strain that caused a flu pandemic in 2009.
The stated reason is to study hybrid strains that might emerge in the wild. However, the research has been criticised for being of little value in the monitoring of new viral strains as they emerge OR in the development of vaccines.
Other virologists have raised serious concerns about this, going so far as to call the research “apallingingly irresponsible”. There are fears that such lab-created strains could themselves lead to pandemics with a very high fatality rate. Apparently “The record of containment in labs like this is not reassuring”.
I should add that I’m very far being anti-science or anti-research. In fact, I’m a health professional working in research, and also hold a science degree, in microbiology of all things. However, in this case it seems to be a case of taking a lot of risk (in the sense of high consequence, if not neccessarily high probability) for very little benefit.