Strain Game: My piece on bird flu, terrorism, and open science in Slate

By Carl Zimmer | December 22, 2011 4:06 pm

Eckard Wimmer makes viruses from scratch. When he first made a polio virus out of raw ingredients in 2002, some congressmen drafted a resolution to condemn him. Today, he’s making viruses that act like vaccines.

Wimmer was one of several virologists I called over the past couple days to talk about the controversy swirling around altered bird flu viruses that have the scientific community deeply worried. Their reactions are all over the board, from those who think the research shouldn’t have even been done in the first place to others who want the research published in full and replicated many times over. My report is over at Slate. It’s a debate that gets to the heart of the scientific process in the twenty-first century. Check it out.


Comments (2)

  1. David B. Benson

    Varl Zimmer — Maybe now a review of Eugene V. Koonin’s (difficult) book, “The Logic of Chance”?

    I found it both hard going and fascinating reading; talk about viruses (veri?)

  2. Daniel J. Andrews

    A slightly off-topic question. I was reading in Nature that people who had come down with the flu in the 2009/10 pandemic had produced antibodies that were effective against all 16 strains of influenza A. These antibodies are being examined as a way to make a more inclusive flu vaccine.

    My question is, if you were inoculated against the 2009/10 strain so you didn’t actually catch the flu, would you still produce the same more inclusive antibodies? Or are those antibodies only produced by people who caught the flu?


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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