How To Kill a Whole Lot of People: Scripps Scientists Publish How They Made H7N9 Virus More Transmissible
By Janet Phelan
In 2014, a moratorium was placed on federally funded research which involved making flu viruses more lethal. The moratorium was placed after heated debate generated by research published by a Netherlands team, headed up by Ron Fouchier. Fouchier’s research had produced a strain of H5N1 which was able to go airborne, thus greatly enhancing its ability to spread. Fouchier focused on the transmission of the disease among ferrets, which are the lab stand-in for people.
Now, scientists in California have published research concerning enabling the human-to-human transmission of the bird flu virus H7N9. This virus strain is of concern to scientists as it has already infected 1500 people and killed 40% of them. H7N9 has not been known, however, to spread easily from human contact.