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Recreation of 1918 H1N1 Influenza Virus UPSC NOTE


  • United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a prominent organization in U.S. public health and safety matters.

  • CDC reviews and approves research on infectious agents; in 2005, it received an application to study an old infectious agent.

  • Researchers sought approval to recreate the deadly H1N1 influenza virus from 1918.

  • Despite risks, CDC approved due to the perceived importance of the proposed experiments.

Nature of Influenza Viruses:

  • Influenza viruses mutate and change annually, making vaccine design challenging.

  • These viruses can infect various animals, generating new strains that may affect humans.

  • Designing an effective influenza vaccine remains difficult due to such complexities.

Researcher's Role and Security Measures:

  • Terrence Tumpey was authorized to work on recreating the H1N1 virus, working in isolation.

  • Special security measures included restricted access to lab, biometric restrictions, protective gear, and limited interactions.

  • Dr. Tumpey's work aimed to identify the genes responsible for the 1918 virus's extreme virulence.

Virus Recombination and Gene Analysis:

  • Dr. Tumpey initially created recombinant viruses with specific gene segments from 1918 virus.

  • His aim was to determine which genes contributed to the virus's high virulence.

  • Viral RNA polymerase and haemagglutinin genes were identified as significant factors.

Importance of Genetic Combination:

  • Changes in individual virus genes influence others, and combination effects are crucial.

  • Genetic changes must balance between rapid transmission and host survival.

  • 1918 virus had an enhanced transmission rate, active polymerase, and immune evasion mechanisms.

Impact and Future Implications:

  • The efforts of various scientists unraveled the origins and deadliness of the 1918 H1N1 influenza virus.

  • Genetic characterization laid the foundation for understanding how influenza causes disease.

  • Knowledge from their work aids in designing better vaccines and therapeutics for current and future influenza variants.

  • The 1918 pandemic's severity stands as a reminder of nature's potential for creating destructive pathogens.

Comparative Pandemics:

  • Subsequent influenza pandemics in 1957, 1968, and 2009 were less severe than 1918.

  • Death tolls: 1957 and 1968 estimated at 1 million each, 2009 around 0.3 million.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Recreation of 1918 H1N1 Influenza Virus UPSC NOTE
Recreation of 1918 H1N1 Influenza Virus UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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