NEWS FROM UNDERGROUND

MARK CRISPIN MILLER

General

Mad scientists at U Wisconsin recreate 1918 flu virus, and give it wings (and sane scientists call the project “crazy”)

Scientists condemn ‘crazy, dangerous’ creation of deadly airborne flu virus

Researchers say recreation of Spanish flu strain highlights risk of pandemic, but critics say work puts global population at risk

Scientists have created a life-threatening virus that closely resembles the 1918 Spanish flu strain that killed an estimated 50m people in an experiment labelled as “crazy” by opponents.

US researchers said the experiments were crucial for understanding the public health risk posed by viruses currently circulating in wild birds, but critics condemned the studies as dangerous and called on funders to stop the work.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used a technique called reverse genetics to build the virus from fragments of wild bird flu strains. They then mutated the virus to make it airborne to spread more easily from one animal to another.

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