Scientists Use Gain-of-Function To Resurrect Deadly Spanish Flu That Killed 50 Million People

A team of gain-of-function scientists in Canada and the US report that they have re-created the 1918 influenza virus and used it to infect macaques.

Spanish Flu infected more than one-third of the global population and killed 50 million people just after World War I. Epidemiologists regard it as the worst plague since the Black Death in the 14th century.

In a piece titled, “Scientists Have Re-Created The Deadly 1918 Flu Virus. Why?” Forbes contributor Steven Salzberg examines what could possibly have lead scientists to do this.

Salzberg begins by noting the controversy regarding gain-of-function research after the COVID-19 pandemic that looks more and more likely to have its origins at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which was coincidentally conducting gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses just before the first case of COVID-19 were reported in the Wuhan area.

So why are scientists performing gain-of-function research on a long-gone and deadly flu virus that killed tens of millions of people over one hundred year ago?

“In the latest news, a team of scientists in Canada and the U.S. report that they have re-created the 1918 influenza virus and used it to infect macaques,” says Salzberg. “Let’s be clear here: the 1918 flu vanished from the Earth, long ago. It’s simply not a threat, or it least it wasn’t, until someone figured out a way to bring it back.”

Salzberg doesn’t mention this in his article, but the thing about the Spanish Flu was that it was unlike other flu viruses that are more deadly to the very young and the very old — this one had an unusually high mortality rate among young adults.

Via Clash Daily: The SARS-CoV-2 virus was also somewhat unusual in that it was very little threat to the young, but the vast majority of deaths have been in elderly patients who are already susceptible to other respiratory viruses.

Comparisons to the 1918 Flu and COVID-19 have been around since early 2020, but it was often in a comforting way — “At least it’s not the Spanish Flu!

Were the public health officials upset that SARS-CoV-2 was “disproportionately affecting” elderly people and wanted to make sure that there was mortality “equity” among younger age groups? Someone cynical might think that, but no… it’s much worse than that. The gain-of-function scientists did it just because they could.

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