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CDC Bird Flu Experiment
November 23, 2004
The introduction to the report above mentions reassorting genes. Such an approach is fundamentally flawed because a virus with the case mortality rate associated with the H5N1 circulating in Asia would only change its receptor binding region, and such a change would be via recombination, not reassortment. Reassortment merely moves existing genes around. H5N1 evolves via recombination, which moves pieces of genes.
The current H5N1 circulating in Asia is a recombinant, as was the 1918 pandemic strain. The virus can generate many forms of recombinants and recombination creates new genes, which is how viruses emerge and evolve.