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Zombie Virus

August 14 , 2013


Since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, our fertile imaginations have been craving more science fiction stories about mad scientists conducting mad experiments.

Flu scientists are satisfying that craving. They are now pursuing experiments with the H7N9 bird influenza virus that emerged in China earlier this year. They want to make the virus even more dangerous.

Sounds like the start of the "World War Z" movie except that it's not fiction and all that's missing is the coming pandemic that turns people into zombies when the superbug escapes from the lab.

Scientists argue that making deadly, drug resistant superbug strains helps them gain information that could help us defend against a deadly pandemic. Uh huh.

Benjamin tenOever and his team of scientists tweaked an H3N2 flu strain which they say is a common cause of seasonal flu. They tagged it with a sequence of genetic material that when paired with a complementary sequence, can switch the virus’s replication genes on and off.


Ron Fouchier and 23 colleagues, also defended the deveopment of deadly superbugs because they say the best way to prevent a worst-case scenario is to provoke one. That's the same kind of logic as; "we must give up our freedom to protect our freedom" or "we must make war to make peace" or "I don't believe it even if it's true".

tenOever says that Fouchier’s H5N1 research was key in identifying mutations that would make the bird virus start to spread between mammals. "This knowledge was critical to focus our surveillance efforts to monitor the virus and predict when the risk of disease justifies vaccine development."


Hollywood movies are propaganda vehicles. They give us role models to identify with and imitate. Zombie movies make being undead in a decomposing body desirable and trendy. When the H9N9 virus escapes from the lab in the coming years, Zombie fans will REALLY have something to look forward to.

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