“A synthetic replica of the virus can help researchers figure out how to stop its spread. Having the virus itself is really critical to designing and testing drugs that can potentially ameliorate the viral infection. Researchers can also use genetic engineering to tweak the virus to see whether certain mutations make it more or less harmful. Safer versions is particularly helpful so that researchers don’t get infected. It cost about $30,000 to purchase the DNA fragments, and in a few years, it will probably be even cheaper. DNA synthesizing used to be expensive and laborious, but companies have automated the process. Scientists first made a synthetic virus in 2002, when they reconstructed a live polio virus using chemicals and publicly available genetic information. A synthetic virus could help develop drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests but could also be used as a bioweapon.