by Rich Bowden - May 13 2009, 06:40
Post from the Tech Herald-Science
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to investigate claims that the swine flu currently infecting the world was the result of genetic experiments by scientists which then leaked from a laboratory.
The extraordinary claims were made by 75-year-old Australian researcher Adrian Gibbs, who was part of the team behind development of the Tamiflu drug. Gibbs contends the deadly H1N1 strain may have been accidentally born in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and in vaccine research.
"One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape," Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "But there are lots of others."
Earlier, Gibbs had said his escape theory was formulated because the strain looks to have evolved at a faster than normal rate.
"Because I couldn't find any evidence that the authorities were seriously considering a lab escape, I thought it would be a good idea to come out in public and say: 'Well, the data looks to me like that. And that should be checked,'" he said.
However, flu experts have said there is no evidence to back up Gibbs' claim.
"We don't see evidence that there's accelerated evolution indicating that there would have been a new host that the virus was introduced into, be it eggs or any other host," said Dr. Nancy Cox, head of the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Gibbs has submitted his findings to WHO scientists over the weekend who, it is reported, are looking into the possibility of human error being responsible for the virus.
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