Thursday, August 12, 2010

Most Pessimistic and Hyperbolic News Report I've Read Today

A story in today's The Guardian (here) reports on a gut gene that is multiplying antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The article proclaims a "post-antibiotic apocalypse," bur argues that this is not hyperbole because an article published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases itself raises the question as to whether the NDM 1 gene "is the end of antibiotics." The issue, of course, is that there is a major move from a serious scientific study that raises a question, and a newspaper article that presumes we know with certainty the awful answer to that question. Anyway, if you want to scare yourself, go ahead and read the article.

I might add that I would not be at at all surprised if a major pandemic occurred during the remaining decades of my life. Science hasn't conquered nature yet, and is never likely to do so completely. However, I would expect such a pandemic to arise from a more or less sudden outbreak of some previously undetected pathogen along multiple vectors, not from a single genetic source, subject potentially to genetic manipulation during a 10-year (or longer) window of opportunity.

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