What could drive humans to extinction?

The risk of a virus that can end humanity is real and we are not taking it seriously.


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Human error happens all the time, it’s human. It also happens wherever humans work – including the most secure bio-labs. Human error could cause a global pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed 100 million.


These high security research labs manipulate deadly flu virus strains for research; for example the man-made airborne-transmissible H5N1 viruses[1] created in the laboratories of Ron Fouchier in the Netherlands and Yoshihiro Kawaoka in Madison Wisconsin[2]. There are at least 14 labs now carrying out this research (including a laboratory in Wuhan, China which potentially plays a key role in the recent coronavirus outbreak).


Human Error


“In one lab “samples of live Ebola virus, instead of the samples with inactivated Ebola virus, were transferred out of a BSL-4 laboratory to a laboratory with a lower safety level for additional analysis. While no one contracted Ebola virus in this instance, the consequences could have been dire for the personnel involved as there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for this virus.”

Human error is such a serious problem it accounts for 67% of all potential accidents according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.[3] Their report showed incidents causing staff to be exposed to pathogens occur frequently in these high security laboratories, where infected staff could release these pathogens to the public. In the worst case, leading to a deadly worldwide pandemic. A lab in Wuhan working on animal coronaviruses (that are similar to the present Wuhan Coronavirus) is only a couple of hundred meters from the site of the start of this potential pandemic and being investigated by the White House.


The high percentage of human error reported in this research calls into question claims that state-of-the-art design of secure bio-labs (BSL3 – BSL4) will prevent the release of dangerous pathogens that could cause a global pandemic.

In one lab “samples of live Ebola virus, instead of the samples with inactivated Ebola virus, were transferred out of a BSL-4 laboratory to a laboratory with a lower safety level for additional analysis. While no one contracted Ebola virus in this instance, the consequences could have been dire for the personnel involved as there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for this virus.”


Twenty Percent Chance of another Pandemic


The probability is about 20 percent for a release of a mammalian-airborne-transmissible, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus into the community from at least one of 10 labs over a 10-year period of developing and researching this type of pathogen.”

In an analysis circulated at the 2017 meeting for the Biological Weapons Convention, a conservative estimate “shows that the probability is about 20 percent for a release of a mammalian-airborne-transmissible, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus into the community from at least one of 10 labs over a 10-year period of developing and researching this type of pathogen.”

It is important we take this research seriously and take steps to prevent such incidents from occurring.



This problem is serious

It is important we take this research seriously and take steps to prevent such incidents from occurring.


This post was originally published on Quora.

Footnotes

[1] Flu Researcher Ron Fouchier: 'It's a Pity That It Has to Come to This'

[2] EXCLUSIVE: Controversial experiments that could make bird flu more risky poised to resume

[3] Human error in high-biocontainment labs: a likely pandemic threat - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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