Factual · Powerful · Original · Iconoclastic
Somehow I missed it, but a BBC video from June of this year, now available on YouTube, is the most alarmist thing I have seen or read on pandemic avian flu.
"If you were a terrorist wanting to design a biologic weapon, you couldn't do better than designing a virus like this," claims Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic within the first few seconds. "This is really nature's bio-terrorism." Later he informs us that, "The best scientific evidence is that one or two mutations will be enough to allow this virus to attach easily to human cells and thereby spread from one human to another."
We know now, from the research of David Finkelstein and his colleagues, it would actually take 11 or 12 mutations. Perhaps news of this research hadn't reached Poland in time, but his "best scientific evidence" is a pure fabrication.
Poland also informs us that what "really sent chills through the spines of virologists and vaccinologists, was the recognition that this virus [avian flu H5N1] had now jumped species from birds into mammals." Doubtful. Birds and non-human mammals (particularly swine, apparently) appear to play a vital role in each year's seasonal influenza. A team of researchers led by St. Jude's Robert Webster wrote in the journal Virology that, "most of the influenza virus genes that have appeared in mammalian gene pools over the past 30 years have been shown ultimately to have an avian origin."
Yes, some people will do or say anything to appear on the "telly."
Repeatedly the fear-umentary makes bizarre personifications of the virus, with the narrator more than once insisting the virus seeks "world domination." A Scots doctor tells us, "The human population has never been faced by a virus like this before. This is an utterly evil virus." Do these tiny pieces of protein come complete with Adolf Hitler mustaches?
The narrator also claims, "The virus has started to jump from birds to humans." Actually, the first reported bird-to-human cases were in 1997. It's said that Europeans have a longer view than Americans, but I suspect even Britons wouldn't consider events of a decade ago to be "just."
The only "just" aspect of this video is that it's just plain awful.