Australian scientist suggests Swine flu an accident in the lab

The suggestion by an Australian virologist that the new flu virus, H1N1 or swine flu, could have been the result of a laboratory accident has been dismissed by Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the deputy director general of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The suggestion, which grew into a rumour, was circulated by news outlets worldwide and was made by Dr. Adrian Gibbs, a virologist and a member of the team which developed the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

He has reportedly appeared on television in the United States suggesting that swine flu might have been created using eggs to grow viruses and make new vaccines, and could have been accidentally leaked to the general public.

Dr. Fukuda says Dr. Gibbs remarks were taken very seriously, but the evidence suggests that this is a naturally occurring virus, rather than a laboratory-derived virus.

Dr. Gibbs is a retired plant virologist from the Australian National University, who previously published work in the journal Science which questioned the now accepted idea, that the 1918 pandemic started as a bird flu.

It seems Dr. Gibbs studied the gene sequences of the swine flu virus posted on public data banks and he suggests that it was grown in eggs, the medium used in vaccine laboratories, because the new virus was not closely related to known ones and because it had more of the amino acid lysine and more mutations than typical strains of swine flu.

His theory apparently evoked scepticism and derision from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but was given a fair amount of media coverage which ran with the story and true to form embellished and magnified the suggestion and added speculation about bioterrorism.

But many feel just bringing the idea of laboratory security to the public's attention is important and it is worth remembering that the epidemic of Foot and Mouth disease in Britain in 2001 was eventually traced back to a missing vial from a research laboratory but in the meantime more than 6 million animals were culled to stop the spread of the outbreak.

Experts say that event resulted in lab security and regulations being tightened and improved and while Dr. Gibb's theory is technically plausible, it is very unlikely to have occurred.

According to Dr. Fukuda a WHO panel of experts concluded that “the hypothesis does not bear scrutiny because the lysine residues and mutation rates were typical and many swine flu appear unrelated because not enough pigs are tested each year".

Dr. Fukuda says he doubts that the rumour would prove to be damaging and he would not want genetic sequences kept off public databases - however persistent false rumours such as linking childhood immunisation shots to autism, can have devastating effects on controlling diseases.

While scientists have yet to accurately pinpoint the exact origin of the new swine flu the earliest cases in Mexico were found to contain genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia, as well as avian and human genes.

The H1N1 influenza virus is expected to dominate the WHO's annual 9 day conference in Geneva but will also shorten it so that the 193 health delegates can return home to deal with the looming pandemic.

According to the WHO to date the virus has spread to 33 countries, 6,497 cases have been reported and 65 people have died - 4,300 confirmed and probable cases, with 3 deaths, were reported in the United States.


  1. Gunner Gunner Australia says:

    I'm interested in all of this mass hysteria about swine flu, true or false. Who are behind it, if it's a hoax?

    First swine flu itself is not a hoax, it a virus. More deadly and dangerous that other flu's. Don't think so. Does this flu need. 10-20 minutes cover on the News every day. No.

    I don't have sources to verify these statements, but they are based or research, news articles and common sense.

    News corp. are own by Rupert Murdoch. Who owns the majority of all News, TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet News pages, and so, you get the point. As well he say to all of these news channels that they should cover this case, they have no other option to obey.

    Most of the Major News Channels are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. So they are earning a lot of money by reporting stories like, Swine flu, SARS, Bird Flu.

    And the pharmaceutical industry earning their share because of every government is buying in Tamiflu medicine for the entire population of the country.

    Mass panic amongst the normal population is a way of control. Is Global warming, Global financial crises, Global flu pandemic, Global Fear about Terrorism?

    My statement is that all of this Global crises, pandemic and fears have been created since 9/11. Before we didn't hear much about it. We had the cold war and the communism, before that it was Vietnam, and before then WW2.

    Hey guys, I don't know if I'm insane thinking like this. I don't like the time that we are heading into and of course all this information is based on my own interpretation of fact that i have heard and read. I'm open for reviews and discussing,

    PS: Just another thought, Western Economy is on the bottom, large cooperates and banks are going bankrupt, our we borrow money from the east, and we are borrowing more money to buy tamiflu. Maybe it a good way to put some money back into the US, with borrowed money. THOUGHTS ??????

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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