We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Mutant flu - the risks and benefits

Not Exactly Rocket Science
By Ed Yong
Mar 6, 2012 8:00 PMNov 20, 2019 4:50 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

For a few months now, an intense debate has raged around two mutant strains of H5N1 'bird' flu that, unlike their wild counterparts, can spread easily between mammals. The strains, created by two teams of scientists, have prompted fears that they might be trigger a pandemic, after being accidentally released or used in bio-terrorism. To counter those objections, proponents of the research have argued that we need to study how flu viruses spread and mutate, so that we can better prepare for the very real risk of a natural pandemic. It's a tricky issue. Over at Nature News, I've written an explainer that lays out what the viruses are, what the two teams have done to them, and some of the risks and benefits of the research. Head over there to get some basics about the story. I'd also highly recommend Carl Zimmer's new piece for the NYT, which covers one of the risks that I didn't.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.