WHO Rejects Allegations That Swine Flu Escaped From a Lab

By Eliza Strickland | May 15, 2009 7:14 am

biohazardThe swine flu virus that has infected almost 6,500 people in 33 countries is not the product of a lab accident, World Health Organization officials declared yesterday.

The health officials were arguing against a hypothesis that emerged earlier this week. An Australian researcher named Adrian Gibbs who was has been involved in the development of antiviral flu drugs issued 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 he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint. “One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said…. “But there are lots of others” [Bloomberg]. Gibbs said this new virus had evolved faster than other flu viruses found in pigs, which he said suggested that it combined with other viruses being used in a lab. He argued that the virus could have then escaped into the general population.

But at a press conference, WHO official Keiji Fukuda announced that the hypothesis had been investigated and rejected. “Based on that evaluation by all of the laboratories, the conclusion is that this group of scientists feels that the hypothesis does not really stand up to scrutiny,” Dr. Fukuda said. “The evidence suggests that this is a naturally occurring virus and not a laboratory-derived virus” [MedScape]. He did not go into specifics of the investigation, but did say that the virus’s mutation rate was typical.

A flu virus is constantly evolving in subtle ways, and can sometimes mutate dramatically because its genes are on eight separate strands, or “gene segments.” One or two or more can be replaced, like cards in draw poker. That’s a rare event, however, and requires that two flu strains invade a single cell, replicate and then get their products mixed up in the packaging. The result is a virus dramatically different in immunological appearance, and sometimes in disease-causing capability, from either parent [Washington Post]. Somehow, the H1N1 that health officials are grappling with did shuffle its genetic cards in such a fashion, combining genes from North American and Eurasian pig viruses.

WHO officials also announced yesterday that scientists will need more time to decide whether to start mass production of vaccines against the swine flu virus…. Fukuda said production of vaccines against the new virus could disrupt production of seasonal flu vaccines and so needed careful thought [AFP].

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Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • addicited to Bad

    which he said suggested that it combined with other viruses being used in a lab

    Nope, just other viruses found in pigs. Paranoia abound!

  • http://www.longislandexchange.com long island girl

    swine flu is affecting a lot of people nowadays. we must all be extra careful about this. whether this virus came from the laboratory, we must prepare ourselves to whatever may come. the government must do a lot of research about this swine flu whether the allegations were true or not.

  • bigjohn756

    I give up. Who rejects allegations that swine flu escaped from a lab?

  • http://clubneko.net Nick

    According to early reports, this H1N1 was not only mixed with different swine flu variants, but also human AND avian H1N1. Has this been disproven, and now we’re back to it only being a couple variants of swine flu ?

    And honestly, if this did escape a lab, they’d deny it to their dying breath, otherwise citizenry would be out with pitchforks and torches demanding shut-down or increased safety precautions.

    A couple times in the past few years, something has escaped from a lab. Hoof in mouth, that lady that recently jabbed herself with ebola….

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/ Eliza Strickland

    The pig-human-bird stuff has been confusing. At first health officials did indeed say that the current virus was a mash-up of viruses from all three species. Later, they modified that slightly, saying that the virus is a combo of a Eurasian pig and a North American pig virus — but that the North American virus already contained genes from human and bird flu viruses. Subtle.

  • http://www.HealthFreedomUSA.org Ralph Fucetola JD

    Hmmmm…. earlier this year Baxter Pharma “accidentally” contaminated season flu vaccines with Avian flu virus, and a pandemic was prevented only because the Czech Republic went the extra step and tested the vaccine before using it. No investigation of this “accident.”

    Now WHO assures us that all those advanced healthcare physicians (and there have been dozens at least) who have warned that the “Swine” flu is an example of a weaponized virus are wrong… “We’ve investigated; won’t tell you how; but trust us… don’t look at the man behind the curtain…”

    WHO and the entire “uninsurable risk” vaccine industry have ZERO credibility in these matters.

    They cannot be believed or trusted.

    And when the powers-that-be tell you that you must take the new pandemic flu vaccine this Autumn, remember, weaponized virus = weaponized vaccine. As usual, the vaccine itself (because some people will shed ‘live’ viruses) will create the epidemic.

    I suspect that Putney Pig told the truth in his “Pigs Didn’t Cause the Swine Flu” video:


    Ralph Fucetola JD
    Trustee, Natural Solutions Foundation

  • Arnold

    It doesn’t take a Tuskeegee experiment to make me queasy about bugs. Security is laxed and inconsistent at many research facilities, and
    it’s not just the nice guys working on bringing back 1918’s Spanish flu to “study”.

  • http://DiscoverBlogs Black Feather

    Well, a virus would kill a targeted group faster than bullets, its bloodless (sans Ebola) and you don’t have to sacrifice the military to “get the job done” provided it can be contained. I hope to study infectious diseases someday as I find Microbiology and laboratory science fascinating. I promise not to stick myself or participate in evildoings – provided I don’t die off when some infected person sneezes around me. Hmm… What was the name of that Stephen King novel about a virus that caused an epidemic….Captain Trips in New York? Seriously, Arnold Says has a point. Ever read the “Plutonium Files? Or more recently that senior scientist named Ivins that killed himself before he could be questioned about the anthrax letters. Scary yes and oh so true. Don’t be afraid, every past civilisation has met its demise…. and we got next! So don’t worry about it. Just live the best life you can.

  • michael angel

    How long was the investigation?
    Two weeks?
    That does not seem to be an adequate amount of time to investigate one lab; let alone all labs

  • michael angel

    I give up. Who rejects allegations that swine flu escaped from a lab?

  • http://capoeirameister.de/ Douglass Ando

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