You know how, in a bunch of science fiction movies, there’s a scientist who says, “Don’t do this”, but nobody listens, and then everything goes to shit? Well, humanity is so fucking stupid (boldface mine):
For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from the United States — specimens needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials.
Despite persistent requests from government officials and research institutions, China has not provided samples of the dangerous virus, a type of bird flu called H7N9. In the past, such exchanges have been mostly routine under rules established by the World Health Organization.
Now, as the United States and China spar over trade, some scientists worry that the vital exchange of medical supplies and information could slow, hampering preparedness for the next biological threat.
The scenario is “unlike shortages in aluminum and soybeans,” said Dr. Michael Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School…
Scientists at the Department of Agriculture have had such difficulty obtaining flu samples from China that they have stopped requesting them altogether, according to a government official who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter…
Recent trade tensions could worsen the problem.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative in April released a proposed list of products to be targeted for tariffs — including pharmaceutical products such as vaccines, medicines and medical devices.
So far, none of those medical products have landed on the final tariff lists. But lower-level trade negotiations with China concluded on Thursday with few signs of progress, increasing the likelihood of additional tariffs…
Scientists believe top commerce officials in both governments view the viral samples much like any other laboratory product, and may be unfamiliar with their vital role in global security.
“Countries don’t own their viral samples any more than they own the birds in their skies,” said Andrew C. Weber, who oversaw biological defense programs at the Pentagon during the Obama administration.
There are certain things more important than winning trade wars. Preventing an influenza pandemic is one of them.
So stupid and so petty.