Article

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

Laurie Garrett on Man-Made Deadly Flu

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
December 21, 2011
Council on Foreign Relations

Share

This was guest post by CFR senior fellow for global health Laurie Garrett on the blog, The Water's Edge."

Today, December 20, 2011, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) released its decision regarding publication of two scientific papers claiming to have made a "super-flu" variant of the H5N1 avian virus. Two research teams, from the Netherlands and Wisconsin, separately claimed in September to have man-made genetic variants of the widely circulating H5N1 virus, rendering the flu not only transmissible man-to-man, but also more than 50 percent lethal.

As I described last week, the research sparked a range of fears, including concern that what amounts to the most dangerous human pathogen ever known to have existed could escape its laboratory confines, with disastrous repercussions; that publication of the "how-to" aspects of the experiments could constitute handing a catastrophe cookbook to terrorists or malevolent individuals; and that recent proliferation in high security biology labs worldwide has increased the risk of both lab accidents and untraceable bioterrorism research.

The NSABB faced three basic options regarding publication of papers by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University in Rotterdam and Yoshi Kawaoke of the University of Wisconsin in Madison:

1) Advise all credible scientific publications to decline release of the papers, essentially censoring the work;

2) Allow full and free publication of both papers;

3) Advise publication, but with key passages related to how the feats were performed, deleted.

View full text of article.

More on This Topic

Op-Ed

Don't Kiss the Cadaver

Author: Laurie Garrett
ForeignPolicy.com

As the first outbreak of ebola in West Africa in twenty years claims over seventy lives, Laurie Garrett looks back at past epidemics in the...