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Pandemic fears (Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Simon Flake)

World on brink of global pandemic: ‘human error’ leaks of lab-originated mutated viruses

GLOBAL PANDEMIC risks have escalated due to an increase in the amount of human errors from “high security” pathogen labs that are ironically working with the very viruses they are trying to eradicate.

Lynn Klotz, Senior Science Fellow at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said: “There is a substantial probability that a pandemic with over one hundred million fatalities could be seeded from an undetected lab-acquired infection.”

Human error

This is because of human error in pathogen labs, were one infected worker could transmit a lab mutated virus that is hyper-contagious making Stephen King’s The Stand look like a prediction rather than a fable.

Mr Klotz argues the likelihood of one of those viruses escaping from a lab is “as high as 30 percent, a risk to dangerous to live with”.

Virologists have informed research papers of their interest in developing strains of the already deadly H2N9 Asian influenza virus, one that could be transmissible via aerosols amongst mammals , this creating a potential pandemic pathogen, or a PPP.

Bird flu, the 1928 pandemic flu, and SARS are potential pandemic pathogens and virologists have also expressed an intent to make these contagious via respiratory aerosols and at present there are no international regulations to decide whither such research should proceed.

Lab originated outbreaks have a long history. The 1977 pandemic flu, smallpox escaping from a UK lab, Venezuelan equine encephalitis in 1995 and a more recent SARS outbreak in China.

Chinese labs

The incident in China involved two researchers who were exposed to SARS in the lab, they then went on to transmit the disease to others, leading to several hospitalisations and one death, in 2004.

Mr Klotz said: “Ironically these labs were working on these pathogens to prevent the very outbreaks that they ultimately caused.”

Examples of human error have been skin exposure to needles, spills and splashes of infected liquids and bites from animals that have been infected.

Disturbingly, Avian flu virus H5N1 has a new airborne transmittable version created in the Fouchier and Kawaoka labs that could be catastrophic if released.

Mr Klotz argues that mutating the Avian flu virus “to develop strains transmissible via aerosols amongst mammals should be banned”.

No ban in force

But, since no bans are in force at present, in the meantime he has recommended quarantining lab workers after shifts and removing the deadly pathogen labs to remotes areas.

There have been many worrying self-reported mistakes from labs, such as anthrax and Avian fly virus leaks, leading to 56 virologists ad epidemiologists signing a letter addressed to the President of the European Commission warning, ” The probability of a lab accident that may lead to a global spread of an escaped mutated virus is small buy finite, while the impact of a global spread could be catastrophic”.

Mr Klotz advises cautions an points out that the focus of his pathogen outbreak study is of a very small subset of pathogen research and that most research in this area “should proceed unimpeded by the necessary regulations.”

There is even a 15 percent probability that a lab originated pathogen escape, “may not be detected at all.”

Meaning we may be presently living with the consequences of an escaped potential pandemic pathogen, and the world may never notice until it is too late.

Further reading

The information in this news report was taken from Lynn Klotz’s and Edward J. Sylvester’s article ‘The Consequences of a Lab Escape of a Potential Pandemic Pathogen’ from Front Public Health. 2014; 2: 116.


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