In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed nearly 50 million people, and now scientists at the University of Wisconsin have re-created it.
“So we can be better prepared," Lead researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka said.
Others don’t agree. "The work they are doing is absolutely crazy,” said Lord May, the former science adviser to the UK government.“
May told The Guardian he has serious concerns. "Yes, there is a danger,” he began. “But it's not arising from the viruses out there in the animals, its arising from the labs of grossly ambitious people. The whole thing is exceedingly dangerous," he finished.
Kawaoka told NBC News his team used the virus to infect ferrets because they react similarly to humans when they catch the flu.
“It is important to understand the mechanisms involved in adaptation and identify the key mutations,” he noted.
Harvard professor of epidemiology Marc Lipsitch has a different view. "I am worried that this signals a growing trend to make transmissible novel viruses willy-nilly, without strong public health rationale."
Lipsitch was part of a group who studied labs making such viruses. They concluded if 10 labs do similar work over a decade, there is a 20% chance of at least one person becoming infected.