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CDC and WHO Fail to Imitate Nature

Recombinomics Commentary
December  28, 2004

>>These projected experiments are to be welcomed for 2 reasons; if
negative, they may allay some of the hysteria associated with recent
predictions of the imminence of a new influenza pandemic, and if
positive, they might facilitate prediction of the likely antigenicity
of avian-human virus hybrids and accelerate rational vaccine design.
- Mod.CP]<<

If the viruses recombine, they will facilitate prediction of possible antigenicity of avian-human hybrids.  If they reassort, the genes will remain the same, so those viruses with H3 or H1 will be recognized by current antibodies and the viruses won't have pandemic potential. The viruses with H5 will likely be virulent, but will still not efficiently transmit from human to human.  A broader transmissibility requires recombination, not reassortment.

If the viruses fail to recombine, it will likely just mean that the co-infection experiments did not include appropriate selection pressures.  The effects of these selection pressures have been seen in vivo.  The H5N1 in Vietnam and Thailand have gone through several series of recent recombinations.  Most recently, they have recombined to pick up mammalian polymorphisms, which could have come from swine or humans.

The WSN/33 related isolates in Korea have also gone through several recent rounds of recombination.  They recombined with swine isolates to replace a limited number of WSN/33 polymorphisms with swine polymorphisms.  They then reassorted and recombined with avian H9N2 Korean isolates.

The viruses recombine and reassort very frequently.  If this is not seen in the co-infection experiments, it just means that the experiments failed to mimic what happens in nature, which should heighten concerns, not allay them.

The virus already knows how to recombine and reassort.  It does not need lab experiments to apply these mechanisms of evolution and emergence.

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