In 2005 Dr. Anthony Fauci and then CDC head Julie Gerberding approved the reconstruction of the 1918 Spanish Flu virus using reverse genetics from the unearthed genome sequence dug up in Alaska permafrost.
The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed up to 50 million people worldwide. An estimated 675,000 died in the United States where life expectancy was lowered by more than 10 years.
Dr. Terence Tumpey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and his team filled gaps in the 1918 strain with H1N1 genes and grew their recreated virus in canine kidney cells and hens’ eggs and then infected mice.
The strain manufactured in the lab generated 39,000 times more virus particles in mice lungs than a modern flu strain. All mice died within 6 days of infection.
“This would be extremely dangerous should it escape, and there is a long history of things escaping.”Barbara Hatch Rosenberg
The genome sequence was put on the GenBank database, so if someone wanted to recreate more of the Spanish Flu the technology is available.