Displaying 30+ Stories
Allow Ads

Scientists Warn Controversial Contagious Vaccines for Animals Could Mutate, Find Way into Humans


It sounds like something right out of science fiction.  A vaccine that could reproduce in one host and be so contagious it spreads to others quickly, allegedly protecting an entire population from deadly pathogens. 

Even in this era where questions abound about whether the COVID-19 pandemic started in animals or in a lab in China, teams of researchers around the world are trying to revive controversial research to develop self-spreading vaccines in wildlife in order to fight Ebola, bovine tuberculosis, and Lassa fever, according to National Geographic

All three of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they are transmissible from animals to humans.  The Centers for Disease Control has said more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.

National Geographic reports genetically engineered viruses could be spread from one animal to another, giving immunity to disease rather than infection. Scientists speculate the same process could also be used to fight other diseases like rabies, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and even the plague.

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

Some researchers believe such a development could even deter infectious diseases in animals before they jumped to human hosts. They dream that it could possibly prevent the next pandemic. 

The Blaze reports a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) in January states, "Spillover of infectious diseases from wildlife populations into humans is an increasing threat to human health and welfare. Current approaches to manage these emerging infectious diseases are largely reactive, leading to deadly and costly time lags between emergence and control."

"Here, we use mathematical models and data from previously published experimental and field studies to evaluate the scope for a more proactive approach based on transmissible vaccines that eliminates pathogens from wild animal populations before spillover can occur," write the authors of the paper from the University of Idaho. "Our models are focused on transmissible vaccines designed using herpes virus vectors and demonstrate that these vaccines – currently under development for several important human pathogens – may have the potential to rapidly control zoonotic pathogens within the reservoir hosts."

Possible Dangers

But others are sounding the alarm about these experimental, contagious vaccines, saying the dangers outweigh the possible benefits. One researcher told National Geographic once you let the viruses go, they have the potential of finding a way into humans. 

"Once you set something engineered and self-transmissible out into nature, you don't know what happens to it and where it will go," says Jonas Sandbrink, a biosecurity researcher at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. "Even if you just start by setting it out into animal populations, part of the genetic elements might find their way back into humans."

A little more than six years ago, the technology and funding became available for scientific teams to expand their research into self-spreading vaccines for wildlife. 

But even as the research began, experts warned about potential dangers as the viruses in the vaccines could mutate into something else. 

Scott Nusimer, a mathematical biologist at the University of Idaho in Moscow, told Popular Science in 2017, the intended cure could replicate enough to turn back into a disease. 

"If we did intentionally design transmissible vaccines, they might be more likely than regular vaccines to revert. That's because they reach more people and have a chance to replicate and make new generations. That means more chances for mutations and evolution. Then your transmissible vaccine turns back into the disease effectively," Nusimer said. 

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported new evidence may once again link the COVID-19 pandemic to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The issue has been debated and studied extensively and there's still no consensus. 

"The virus emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The WIV has a long history of studying coronaviruses, and it also conducted gain-of-function experiments that can possibly make a virus spread more easily or enable them to infect a new species," the Journal pointed out.  It's just one more reminder that experimental viruses can wreak havoc, whether they escape into the wild or are intentionally released for some beneficial goal.

Your health is important. Do you have questions about nutrition, weight loss, boosting immunity or medicine? Learn more here!

Need prayer? We’re available 24/7. Call (800) 700-7000 or request prayer.

Learn why Truth Matters at CBN News.
CBN Partners provide hope to those who are suffering! You can help bring hope today!
Bring Hope

Did you know?

God is everywhere—even in the news. That’s why we view every news story through the lens of faith. We are committed to delivering quality independent Christian journalism you can trust. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do. Help us continue to be a voice for truth in the media by supporting CBN News for as little as $1.