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H1N1(Swine Flu): Where did the pandemic come from? Study Regarding H1N1 Origins

November 28, 2009

There are many theories about the origins of the pandemic.  Some are pretty crazy, others not so much. This one is from a very well respected Australian virologist.  Although the WHO has dismissed his claims, they are worth a look.  His study was published in the latest issue of Virology Journal.

The virologist who claimed in May that swine flu may have escaped from a laboratory, published his findings today, renewing discussion about the origins of the pandemic virus.   Adrian Gibbs and fellow Australian scientists wrote in Virology Journal that the new H1N1 that was discovered in Mexico might be the product of three strains from three continents that swapped genes in a lab or a vaccine-making plant.  The authors analyzed the genetic makeup of the virus and found its origin could be more simply explained by human involvement than a coincidence of nature.

Their study, published in a free, online journal reviewed by other scientists, follows debate among researchers six months ago, when Gibbs asked the World Health Organization to consider the hypothesis. After reviewing Gibbs’ initial three-page paper, WHO and other organizations concluded the pandemic strain was a naturally occurring virus and not laboratory-derived.  “It is important that the source of the new virus be found if we wish to avoid future pandemics rather than just trying to minimize the consequences after they have emerged,” Gibbs and colleagues John Armstrong and Jean Downie.

While the exact source of the new H1N1 strain is a mystery, their research has “raised many new questions,” they said. The authors compared the genetic blueprints of flu strains stored in the free database Genbank and found the pandemic viruses nearest ancestors circulate in pigs. While migratory birds may have acted as conduit for their convergence, human involvement in bringing them together is “by far the simplest explanation,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs wrote or coauthored more than 250 scientific publications on viruses, mostly pertaining to the plant world, during his 39-year career at the Australian National University, according to biographical information on the university’s Web site.  “Knowing Adrian Gibbs, he will have thought through it pretty logically and come to that conclusion,” Lance Jennings, a clinical virologist with Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch, New Zealand, said in a telephone interview. “It’s up to someone else to try and prove it or disprove it.”

Gibbs and Armstrong are on the emeritus faculty at the Australian National University in Canberra and Downie is affiliated with the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

http://www.virologyj.com/content/6/1/207

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=ajw2AS.d1wK8#

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