An interesting article that made me think two things: 1. As scientists we are rarely encouraged to thing about the big picture implications of the research we are geekily obsessed with - we need to ensure the public have the right to have their concerns respected and 2. it's easy to sound scary when talking about a very unlikely catastrophic event.

Reverse-engineering the scary stats in the paper means that it claims there is a 0.2% risk/year of someone catching something when working in a high containment lab. However its impossible to make such assessments accurately when the thing you're preventing has not happened before, so 0.2% is probably the most conservative estimate of how likely it is something could go wrong (i.e. the real answer is probably far lower than that).

The question I'd like to know is: in the past 10 years, how many people who work in these labs have got sick from working with any dangerous viruses in these labs?

More generally, people are prone to freak out when faced with unknown risks - so it's unsurprising the papers love a story like this!