The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by an Australian researcher that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error, Bloomberg repots:
Adrian Gibbs, 75, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu drug, said in an interview that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.
Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape.”
A virus that resulted from lab experimentation or vaccine production may indicate a greater need for security, Fukuda said. By pinpointing the source of the virus, scientists also may better understand the microbe’s potential for spreading and causing illness, Gibbs said.
Unwilling to call it a conspiracy, Gibbs said “It could be a mistake.” Then added, “the sooner we get to grips with where it’s come from, the safer things might become.”