This petition calls for the U.S. government to prohibit the funding of any activity that intentionally creates, reconstructs or alters a pathogen to become deadlier or more transmissible to humans (with respect to any pathogen that currently exists in nature), or to become more resistant to existing drugs, treatments or vaccines.
In 2015, scientists created a bat coronavirus that was adapted to infect human airway cells. This “chimeric virus” was not celebrated by all members of the scientific community. “The only impact of this work is the creation, in a lab, of a new, non-natural risk,” said Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist and biodefence expert at Rutgers University. “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” said Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
The U.S. government stopped funding gain-of-function experiments involving influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses in Oct. 2014 (granting exception to the experiment above); however, this moratorium was lifted in Dec. 2017. To allow this type of research to continue poses an exceptional and potentially catastrophic risk to not only U.S. citizens, but to all citizens of the world. There are several compounding sub-risks which include: