Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

Recommended Reading  

Emerging Viruses

AIDS and Ebo­la: Nature, Acci­dent or Inten­tion­al?
by Leonard G. Horowitz
1996, Tetra­he­dron
ISBN 0923550127
Illus­trat­ed, 544 pages.

Mid­west Book Review
Health pro­fes­sion­als and those involved in infec­tious dis­ease research will find Emerg­ing Virus­es star­tling: Har­vard researcher Horow­itz’s stud­ies gath­er evi­dence to con­clude that AIDS and the Ebo­la virus­es evolved dur­ing can­cer virus exper­i­ments in which mon­keys were infect­ed with viral genes from oth­er ani­mals. Cer­tain to spark con­tro­ver­sy, this pro­vides quite a dif­fer­ent view of virus muta­tions and evo­lu­tion.

Avail­able com­mer­cial­ly. Learn more about Leonard Horowitz.


5 comments for “Emerging Viruses”

  1. After lis­ten­ing to the inter­views with Dr. Horowitz I picked up a copy of his book “Emerg­ing Virus­es”.

    This arti­cle deals with con­cerns about the pos­si­ble release of “mutant virus­es”, includ­ing as a bio-weapon:

    Mutant virus exper­i­ments risk unleash­ing glob­al pan­dem­ic, study warns
    By Ian Sam­ple, The Guardian
    Wednes­day, May 21, 2014


    Ben­e­fits of sci­en­tif­ic test­ing in the area are out­weighed by risks of path­o­gen­ic strains spread­ing round world, say researchers

    Pub­lic health experts have warned that con­tro­ver­sial exper­i­ments on mutant virus­es could put human lives in dan­ger by unleash­ing an acci­den­tal pan­dem­ic.

    Sev­er­al groups of sci­en­tists around the world are cre­at­ing and alter­ing virus­es to under­stand how nat­ur­al strains might evolve into more lethal forms that spread eas­i­ly among humans.

    But in a report pub­lished on Tues­day, researchers at Har­vard and Yale uni­ver­si­ties in the US argue that the ben­e­fits of the work are out­weighed by the risk of path­o­gen­ic strains escap­ing from lab­o­ra­to­ries and spread­ing around the world.

    They cal­cu­late that if 10 high-con­tain­ment labs in the US per­formed such exper­i­ments for 10 years, the chance of at least one per­son becom­ing infect­ed was near­ly 20%. If an infect­ed per­son left the lab­o­ra­to­ry, the virus might then spread more wide­ly.

    “We are not say­ing this is going to hap­pen, but when the poten­tial is a pan­dem­ic, even a small chance is some­thing you have to weigh very heav­i­ly,” said Marc Lip­sitch, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist at Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health, who wrote the report with Ali­son Gal­vani, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist at Yale.

    The report threat­ens to reignite a cri­sis in sci­ence that erupt­ed in 2012 when a US biose­cu­ri­ty pan­el ruled that two sep­a­rate stud­ies on mutant bird flu were too dan­ger­ous to pub­lish. They described the cre­ation of new mutant strains that spread among fer­rets – a proxy for humans – held in neigh­bour­ing cages. One fear was that the recipe for the pathogens might fall into the hands of bioter­ror­ists.

    Those stud­ies, led by Ron Fouch­i­er at Eras­mus med­ical cen­tre in Rot­ter­dam, and Yoshi­hi­ro Kawao­ka at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son respec­tive­ly, were even­tu­al­ly pub­lished after months of delays. Oth­er researchers have now begun sim­i­lar exper­i­ments.

    Both Fouch­i­er and Kawao­ka crit­i­cised the lat­est report, pub­lished in Plos Med­i­cine, and said their work had full eth­i­cal, safe­ty and secu­ri­ty approval, with the risks and ben­e­fits tak­en into account.

    Last year, the US gov­ern­ment, which funds most of the con­tro­ver­sial work, revised its guide­lines for “dual-use research of con­cern”, or DURC. Under the new rules, work can be fund­ed if the poten­tial ben­e­fits are sub­stan­tial and the risks con­sid­ered to be man­age­able.

    But Lip­sitch said there was no evi­dence that the risks and ben­e­fits had been weighed up prop­er­ly. “To my knowl­edge, no such thing has been done, but fund­ing for these exper­i­ments con­tin­ues,” he said.

    Lip­sitch said that the US gov­ern­ment and oth­er fund­ing bod­ies must com­mis­sion com­pre­hen­sive risk assess­ments from inde­pen­dent experts before decid­ing which stud­ies to sup­port.

    Lip­sitch and Gal­vani are most con­cerned about what are called gain-of-func­tion stud­ies, which aim to cre­ate high­ly vir­u­lent strains of virus­es in secure lab­o­ra­to­ries so their genet­ic codes can be stud­ied. Muta­tions that make a res­pi­ra­to­ry virus lodge in the throat, for exam­ple, can make the virus more trans­mis­si­ble through cough­ing.

    The ratio­nal for gain-of-func­tion stud­ies is twofold. If sci­en­tists can work out which muta­tions make a virus more dan­ger­ous to peo­ple, they can improve sur­veil­lance by look­ing out for those muta­tions in nat­ur­al strains. The work might also help to steer vac­cine devel­op­ment. But Lip­sitch argues that nei­ther jus­ti­fi­ca­tion stands up: sur­veil­lance is not good enough to use the infor­ma­tion, and vac­cine devel­op­ers can do with­out it, he says.

    Rather than cre­at­ing dan­ger­ous virus­es in high-con­tain­ment lab­o­ra­to­ries, Lip­sitch and Gal­vani urge sci­en­tists to pur­sue alter­na­tive routes, for exam­ple, com­par­isons of sea­son­al human flu strains and oth­er res­pi­ra­to­ry virus­es that have jumped from ani­mals into humans. These are not only safer, the authors claim, but the stud­ies are sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly sound, because they do not rely on small num­bers of ani­mals.

    The report was round­ly reject­ed by Fouch­i­er and Kawao­ka, two of the lead­ing sci­en­tists in gain-of-func­tion stud­ies. Fouch­i­er said the authors were wrong on both points they made – that alter­na­tive exper­i­ments could pro­vide answers about the trans­mis­si­bil­i­ty of virus­es, and that the risk of an out­break or pan­dem­ic was high.

    “The research agen­da they pro­pose is impor­tant and cur­rent­ly ongo­ing, but alone will nev­er lead to sol­id con­clu­sions about mam­malian adap­ta­tion and trans­mis­sion: the proof of the pud­ding will need to come from gain-of-func­tion stud­ies using infec­tious virus­es. This is why the depart­ment of health and human ser­vices has approved our research, tak­ing into account all eth­i­cal, safe­ty and secu­ri­ty issues, and weigh­ing the risks of the research against the ben­e­fits,” Fouch­i­er said.

    He said the authors had mis­in­ter­pret­ed pub­lished data to arrive at their risk of some­one pick­ing up a virus in the lab­o­ra­to­ry. “The truth is that sci­en­tif­ic research has nev­er trig­gered a virus pan­dem­ic.” Lip­sitch and Gal­vani point out that a flu strain that spread around the world from 1977 to 2009 was prob­a­bly released in a lab­o­ra­to­ry acci­dent.

    Kawao­ka was sim­i­lar­ly unim­pressed with the report. “The authors imply that gain-of-func­tion stud­ies are going on with­out prop­er reviews. This is not so and sug­gests they do not under­stand how high­ly reg­u­lat­ed this work is and the approvals and plan­ning required to con­duct this research,” he said. “This com­men­tary lists many exper­i­ments they think we should be doing. We are doing many of those exper­i­ments already.”

    Simon Wain-Hob­son, a virol­o­gist at the Pas­teur Insti­tute in Paris, said that sci­en­tists work­ing on the con­tro­ver­sial virus stud­ies should be less defen­sive. “There are times when we have to open up and face our crit­ics. Marc is artic­u­lat­ing what many of us feel is obvi­ous,” he said.

    Posted by Swamp | May 22, 2014, 9:03 am
  2. Mere­ly the words of an old fas­cist crank? — or a hint of a plan...

    Jean-Marie Le Pen sug­gests Ebo­la as solu­tion to glob­al pop­u­la­tion explo­sion

    Virus ‘could sort out demo­graph­ic explo­sion’ and by exten­sion Europe’s ‘immi­gra­tion prob­lem’, says founder of Front Nation­al


    Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right Front Nation­al, has sug­gest­ed the dead­ly virus Ebo­la could solve the glob­al “pop­u­la­tion explo­sion” and by exten­sion Europe’s “immi­gra­tion prob­lem”.

    At a cock­tail par­ty before an elec­tion ral­ly in Mar­seille on Tues­day evening, days before the Euro­pean elec­tions in which the FN is lead­ing the polls in France, Le Pen spoke of the “demo­graph­ic explo­sion” in the world.

    “Mon­seigneur Ebo­la could sort that out in three months,” he said in front of jour­nal­ists.

    Lat­er, address­ing sup­port­ers, Le Pen, 85, said he feared the French pop­u­la­tion risked being “replaced … by immi­grants”.

    “In our coun­try and in all Europe, we have known a cat­a­clysmic phe­nom­e­non – a migra­to­ry inva­sion that, my friends, we are see­ing only the begin­ning of today.”

    Le Pen, who is stand­ing as MEP for the south-east seat, added: “This mas­sive immi­gra­tion risks pro­duc­ing a real replace­ment of pop­u­la­tions if we don’t arrive in pow­er soon enough to put an end to the pol­i­tics of deca­dence that has been fol­lowed for decades.”

    He said that reli­gion added an “aggra­vat­ing fac­tor” to this prob­lem because many immi­grants were Mus­lim and Islam had a “con­quer­ing voca­tion … and even more con­quer­ing when it feels strong and they feel numer­ous”

    S.peaking in Mar­seille, which elect­ed an FN may­or in one of its dis­tricts in recent elec­tions, Le Pen was fol­lowed on stage by his daugh­ter, par­ty pres­i­dent Marine.

    Once again, her father under­mined her cam­paign to con­vince vot­ers the FN has evolved from its days as a vehi­cle for the extreme right and Nazi apol­o­gists.

    Tak­ing the micro­phone, Marine Le Pen con­tin­ued with the twin pil­lars of the par­ty’s man­i­festo: the anti-immi­gra­tion and anti-Europe.

    “That’s enough. We wish to become mas­ters in our own home once again,” she told the cheer­ing audi­ence.

    She added that France was caught between “two steel jaws”, say­ing: “On one side we have the import­ing of for­eign cul­tures by a wave of for­eign­ers who, unlike those who came before wish to impose a change on our behav­iour and our lives. On the oth­er side, there are the Euro­pean com­mis­sion­ers who force their crazy admin­is­tra­tion on every aspect of our dai­ly lives.”

    Opin­ion polls have sug­gest­ed that the FN could score between 23% and 25% of the vote in France this Sun­day, beat­ing the oppo­si­tion cen­tre-right UMP par­ty and the rul­ing Social­ists.

    Jean-Marie Le Pen has been accused and con­vict­ed sev­er­al times of xeno­pho­bia and anti­semitism. In Feb­ru­ary 2005 a court in Paris ruled that his remarks about Mus­lims in an inter­view with Le Monde con­sti­tut­ed an incite­ment to racial hatred and he was fined €10,000 (£8,100) plus €5,000 in dam­ages. The con­vic­tion and fines were upheld on appeal. In 1987 Le Pen said he sup­port­ed the forced iso­la­tion of those infect­ed with the HIV virus. In June 1996 he com­plained that the French World Cup foot­ball team con­tained too many non-white play­ers.

    Posted by Swamp | May 23, 2014, 10:25 am
  3. Dave;

    Any chance of get­ting Dr. Horowitz on the air for an ebo­la update?

    Posted by Swamp | September 24, 2014, 6:44 am
  4. @SWAMP–

    Prob­a­bly not. Emerg­ing virus­es was a great book but Len’s work in the suceed­ing years isn’t up to that stan­dard.



    Posted by Dave Emory | September 24, 2014, 7:16 pm
  5. Any update on ebo­la from your end dave would be extreme­ly appre­ci­at­ed. Thanks in advance!

    Posted by lundqvist11 | November 12, 2014, 5:24 am

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