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Thread: Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Door open or closed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Why do you think it was ever closed?
    Presley,

    I understood that scientific research had prior to the Internet been largely communicated within the community in printed journals etc. For others to gain access was not impossible, but would take time and effort. Now the Internet makes access cheap, rapid and easy. I have assumed in this example that much of the Dutch work, if not the formulas, are in the public domain and can be found by those who wish harm.

    This part of the scientific community appear to have been oblivious to the dangers, even when the traditional methods of oversight have been used, hence my reference to:
    peer reviewed research and a scientific conference
    Which you refer to as:
    controlled conditions
    Hardly much sign of those conditions applying, hence my use of the analogy of a door being closed.
    davidbfpo

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Presley,

    I understood that scientific research had prior to the Internet been largely communicated within the community in printed journals etc. For others to gain access was not impossible, but would take time and effort. Now the Internet makes access cheap, rapid and easy. I have assumed in this example that much of the Dutch work, if not the formulas, are in the public domain and can be found by those who wish harm.
    You can assume that journal subscription costs are negligible compared to laboratory costs. If not, then you can assume that evolution has already done most of the work for you and that mischief arising from the accessibility of knowledge is comparable to the risk of spontaneous outbreak and trivial compared to the risk of development and exploitation by nefarious parties.

    And ultimately that is the objective of virology (at least performed in the pursuit of medical ethics): to understand and mitigate as much of the space of viral evolutionary pathways as possible as early as possible.

    This part of the scientific community appear to have been oblivious to the dangers, even when the traditional methods of oversight have been used...
    Can we honestly say that when the researchers themselves are pointing out the extraordinary lethality of this particular H5N1 strain?
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

  3. #23
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Newsflash. Homo sapiens is a part of nature. So the question is which do you prefer? A world where mankind isn't intelligent enough to contemplate, execute and study--under controlled conditions--evolutionary pathways of pathology or a world where we just stumble across it? 1918 wasn't a fun year.
    Research is important. No argument, but 1918 was most likely far smaller than a similar event that is apt to happen in our lifetime. Bringing a super-virus into a world with no immunity to the same is not science, it is opening Pandora's box.

    I've seen estimates that as high as 90% of the North American populace were killed in pandemics from the time Columbus landed in the Caribbean and when the first settlers arrived in Virginia. They thought they had found a wilderness, but had in fact arrived in a ghost town.

    I am sure the scientists who create the next virus to have such an effect will rationalize how their work was to advance science as you describe, and it was only some accident or intentional abuse of their work that led to the following disaster. Some things are best left uninvented.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Research is important. No argument, but 1918 was most likely far smaller than a similar event that is apt to happen in our lifetime.
    About ten times smaller than the number tossed around in advanced of publication.

    Bringing a super-virus into a world with no immunity to the same is not science, it is opening Pandora's box.
    Couple of points:

    1. There is no such thing as a super virus.
    2. Discovery in virology is serendipitous; there is presently no means to plan treatment until a pathogen emerges.
    3. There is no guarantee that H5N1 wouldn't evolve into the discovered strain.

    Pandora's box was open the moment organic replicators appeared on this planet, and what was let loose has likely caused several mass extinctions throughout geological time.

    I am sure the scientists who create the next virus to have such an effect will rationalize how their work was to advance science as you describe...
    Nothing so cliche. Their work advances the cause of identifying and mitigating existential threats to the survival of mankind.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    The obvious middle ground is to allow publication under controlled conditions; i.e. declaring the research results a state secret and managing access.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    The obvious middle ground is to allow publication under controlled conditions; i.e. declaring the research results a state secret and managing access.
    Undoubtably, insofar as you can lay hands on the researchers and their materials.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Undoubtably, insofar as you can lay hands on the researchers and their materials.
    That's the easy part. Scare the public. Enact a few laws. Make a few arrests to demonstrate the seriousness of the issue if necessary. I'm not familiar with the Netherlands' national security laws, so its only speculation, assuming that national security is the priority, as opposed to research, freedom of speech, etc.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  8. #28
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Censorship, Ethics? Common sense too!

    Looks like there's been an intervention. First, headlined 'Bird flu: Research row as US raises terror fears' and opens with:
    The authors of two controversial bird flu studies have reportedly agreed to a US request to redact key details after a government advisory panel suggested the data could be used by terrorists.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16279365

    Secondly, headlined 'When should science be censored?', a more reflective article, which includes both sides arguments; although my eye caught this snippet:
    building ethics into the work of scientists, and relying on journal editors to exercise caution.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16275946
    davidbfpo

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Looks like there's been an intervention. First, headlined 'Bird flu: Research row as US raises terror fears' and opens with:

    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16279365

    Secondly, headlined 'When should science be censored?', a more reflective article, which includes both sides arguments; although my eye caught this snippet:

    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16275946
    Is anyone genuinely surprised? It makes me wonder what incentives were provided to encourage their decision for self-censorship.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #30
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    The days of medical masks at airports and widespread panic may be coming back—that's because at least 12 humans are believed to have been infected with a new strain of swine flu that's not covered by this season's vaccine.

    The new swine flu strain, H3N2v, has shown at least some potential for human-to-human transmission in those 12 individuals, which makes it especially dangerous. Between 2009 and mid-2010, more than 17,000 people died worldwide from the highly contagious H1N1 swine flu strain, leading the World Health Organization to call the strain a pandemic.

    The 12 people with the new swine flu strain live in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Officials for the Centers for Disease Control say the sample size of H3N2 infections is too small to know whether it will pose a threat to the population at large.

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/...ine-flu-strain
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  11. #31
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    "Oops"

    http://www.katv.com/story/18858431/c...-germ-lab-leak

    ATLANTA, GA. - It's a highly secured, sophisticated research lab studying deadly diseases such as bird flu, monkeypox, tuberculosis and rabies.

    It's in a facility called Building 18, which cost taxpayers $214 million.

    And now, the Biosafety Level 3 lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is also the subject of a congressional investigation after a potentially dangerous airflow leak at that lab, CNN has learned.

    The leak occurred on February 16, when air flowed the wrong way out of a germ lab into a clean-air corridor, rather than through the powerful HEPA filter that cleans the air, congressional sources and CDC officials said. Visitors touring the facility were in the clean corridor when they observed a puff of air being pushed out from the lab through a slot in a door window.
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    Scientists explain how they created bird flu that spreads easily among mammals

    By Eryn Brown / The Los Angeles Times
    Friday, June 22, 2012 -

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/na...osition=recent

  13. #33
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Is the title fit for purpose?

    I am not sure that this thread's title is fit for purpose now. Yes there are several initial posts on the bio threat and recently we have returned to the issues around the scientific pursuit of biological threats. It is almost as if the title should be Assessing Biological weapons & threats: the insider threat.
    davidbfpo

  14. #34
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Moderator at work

    I have merged an October-December 2011 thread on the insider threat 'Dutch Researcher Created A Super-Influenza Virus With The Potential To Kill Millions', with eighteen posts, into this thread. They now appear as posts 13-30.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-23-2012 at 10:47 AM.
    davidbfpo

  15. #35
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    We’ve all seen the movies. We’re in a war room with some general at the screen. There’s one innocuous red dot on a map. The dot becomes a circle. The circle becomes many circles. The many circles amplify exponentially to become one big red map. And we’re all going to be doomed by some airborne strain of zombie ebola within a week.

    The reality of a contagion’s spread, however, is much different than the movies may portray. And researchers at the MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) have been working on more accurate, more complex models of disease spread. They’re particularly interested in the first few days of an epidemic, and the role of the 40 largest airports in the U.S. So they turned to traveler cell-phone data from previous MIT research to model accurate human mobility patterns--the real typical actions of travelers (including pesky layovers and tedious connecting flights)--rather than conjectural patterns.
    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670351/...ead-a-pandemic
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  16. #36
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    The Obama administration held a meeting today in Washington with the representatives of more than two dozen countries on how to confront “a perfect storm of converging threats from infectious disease epidemics.”

    For once, the current administration seems ready to consider ways to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases where they originate:
    - See more at: http://acdemocracy.org/could-rabbit-....osFZgX42.dpuf
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  17. #37
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    A major French biomedical research body, the Pasteur Institute, have launched an investigation into the disappearance of some 2,300 test tubes containing samples of the SARS virus. The loss was discovered during an inventory.

    The Pasteur Institute filed a so-called 'complaint against X' on Monday over the lost SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) samples. According to French law, such complaints allow law enforcement agencies to investigate a certain case, without targeting specific individuals or companies.

    The distinguished research body has also announced it has closed its P3 laboratory, where the samples of the potentially deadly virus were kept.

    "Human error is the most probable reason, but we do not exclude anything,” the Institute’s Director General, Christian Bréchot, said, according to AFP.
    http://rt.com/news/lost-sars-samples-france-608/
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  18. #38
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    Default News Science Infectious diseases Scientists condemn 'crazy, dangerous'

    Once again research scientists take a risk, yes one within their standard defences and thsi time @ University Wisconsin-Madison.

    The article starts:
    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.
    A British scientist's view:
    The work they are doing is absolutely crazy. The whole thing is exceedingly dangerous...Yes, there is a danger, but it's not arising form the viruses out there in the animals, it's arising from the labs of grossly ambitious people.
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/science/2...MCNEWEML6619I2
    davidbfpo

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