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Government Lifts Ban on Making Lethal Viruses

by Countable | 12.26.17

What’s the story?

Federal officials have lifted the ban on making dangerous germs more lethal.

Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said the research was necessary to help scientists "identify, understand, develop strategies and effective countermeasures against rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health."

Critics, however, are concerned that "researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic," according to the New York Times.

Why does it matter?

The ban was put into place in October 2014, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidentally exposed lab workers to anthrax and sent a deadly strain of avian flu to a lab that had actually requested a benign strain.

Now, researchers will be able to manufacture strains of influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

In a statement posted on the NIH website, Collins said:

"I am confident that the thoughtful review process laid out… will help to facilitate the safe, secure, and responsible conduct of this type of research in a manner that maximizes the benefits to public health."

However, Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told the journal Nature that these type of experiments "have done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics—yet they risked creating an accidental pandemic".

What do you think?

Do you support lifting the ban on making lethal viruses? Do the benefits outweigh the possible drawbacks? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: solarseven / iStockphoto)

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Written by Countable

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(72)
  • Ticktock
    12/26/2017
    ···

    Stupid. A poor mans weapon that cannot be aimed. As though destroying the environment with industrial pollutants isn’t enough creating pathogens specifically for the killing of living organisms, human and other creatures together. The Trump Administration and this Republican Congress are not creating a world that is safer for the American people but one that is many times worse. Once some of these weapons are released they are in the environment for decades and cannot be removed making the environment unsafe for generations. The stupidity of this decision is astonishing.

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  • Karan
    12/26/2017
    ···

    Before you liberals get mad at Trump it says that NIH Director Francis S. Collins lifted the ban on making lethal viruses. This guy was nominated by OBAMA and Trump kept Obama’s choice. Blame Obama if you want to blame administration, blame her Obama Administrators who actually chose this guy

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  • Wilson
    12/26/2017
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    This administration is f-ing insane. They are endangering everyone and destroying the future.

    Like (14)
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  • HockeyGuy
    12/26/2017
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    No Karan, we are not going to blame Obama! We are going to blame the Director who made this decision! We believe in holding people accountable for their stupid decisions and ideas!

    Like (9)
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  • OldTimer
    12/26/2017
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    Before you Trump haters get started with all of your bigotry, you should stop for a minute and read, this ban has been lifted by an OBAMA appointee, not by Trump. Please keep your bigotry to yourselves.

    Like (8)
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  • Holly
    12/26/2017
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    Why?? This never ends well. We don’t need anymore weapons.

    Like (7)
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  • Gerald
    12/27/2017
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    They made mistakes handling this stuff in the past. Now if that happens it might be all over for most of us with some new pathogen. Just would like to hold off until we get a president that doesn’t watch Fox for his education and thinks climate change is a hoax. We can’t tweet a cure.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    12/26/2017
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    Deplorables doing deplorable things. They do not know any better. They lack the ability comprehend their own actions. They are simple-minded and only seek the simple shiny trinkets ($$) they receive for delivering their inhumane, unethical, immoral acts upon the Citizens and the world. They only partially understand the greed they succumb to. They do not realize that it is an affliction, an addiction and it is abnormal. They only feel it is normal, because they choose the same afflicted people to be around.

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  • Sarah
    12/27/2017
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    The fact that this was lifted by an Obama appointee is a completely childish “argument”. Stop thinking in terms of left versus right and start thinking in terms of right versus wrong. While I do think that scientists should be researching ways to defend the human race from extremely lethal organisms, trying to create more lethal strains is irresponsible. To what end? All this does is put our own citizens at risk and it will cause other governments such as Russia and North Korea to push full steam ahead on their own research for biological weapons. America was supposed to be leading by example on this front.

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  • Bernie
    12/27/2017
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    US troops get vaccinated against Biological weapons for a reason. There is a threat . Sticking your head in the sand will not stop their development. Nor will some useless treaty or UN resolution. Should we wait for one to be used and then wail that the “ government did nothing?” You can’t have it both ways: cry about NIH funding cuts while also wailing about anti bio weapons research.

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  • Denise
    12/27/2017
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    Maybe one will wipe out Congress,

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  • RadicalModerate
    12/27/2017
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    Do not lift the ban on making lethal viruses. The federal government has become a protection racket, and Americans are going to take a stand against this tyrannical regime next November.

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  • SirRobert
    12/26/2017
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    Is the government lifting the ban on development of lethal virus so Trump can start germ warfare? I would not put it past him. What good can come of this!!??

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  • Anne
    12/26/2017
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    More ways to kill people. What a good idea! Bunch of morons!

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  • Donna
    12/26/2017
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    Are you freaking kidding me? At the same time this administration is cutting budgets, losing talent and shedding all scientists from the ranks, we are going to roll back another regulation put in place to keep citizens safe? If this regulation had been signed during the Reagan or either Bush administrations, would it be on the chopping block? The asinine deregulation of the United States will kill many citizens one of these days and the pro-business, we don't give a damn about anyone else regime will have to finally take some responsibility. For the forty-fifth time since January, just because it was signed by Obama doesn't make it wrong. It just makes it annoying to the thin-skinned, proven to be a liar about the origin of birth of the 44th president among other things and totally out of control 45th president. Will this madness ever end?

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  • BeStrong
    12/27/2017
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    I’m willing to be an alarmist on this subject. With scientists being reassigned, resigning or being dismissed at alarming rates under this administration, whose going to be minding the store? This has disaster written all over it.

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  • NoHedges
    12/27/2017
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    Sensible next step in a class war. They have targeted every form of low SES healthcare. Question becomes will the American people survive until the 2018 elections? And what is plan B in getting these deadly bozos out of office before they really do kill us? If this goes thru the UN will need to put sanctions in place against the US. The bottom line is all this administration understands.

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  • Sync
    12/26/2017
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    Would you like to be a dead extra in a B-List horror movie because this is how you get a B-List horror movie.

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  • NoHedges
    12/30/2017
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    Not so fun facts about "deadly virus": Imagine for a minute how this particular GOP could twist this in favor of their agenda. Make no mistake these are the equivalent of Hitler's gas chambers: During a typical flu season, up to 500,000 people worldwide will die from the illness, according to WHO. But occasionally, when a new flu strain emerges, a pandemic results with a faster spread of disease and, often, higher mortality rates. The most deadly flu pandemic, sometimes called the Spanish flu, began in 1918 and sickened up to 40 percent of the world's population, killing an estimated 50 million people. "I think that it is possible that something like the 1918 flu outbreak could occur again," Muhlberger said. "If a new influenza strain found its way in the human population,and could be transmitted easily between humans, and caused severe illness, we would have a big problem."

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  • Hillary
    12/27/2017
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    This is insane. This cannot possibly end well. To create and develop lethal viruses and assume that there will never be one single, tiny slip up, one drop that rides out on someone’s coat and drops into a puddle is exactly the arrogance that will destroy us. I realize we have to deal with existing virus’ and must just do our best because they are all ready here. But to create and evolve more?

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