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The World Health Organization announced today that it recommends publishing the two controversial H5N1 papers in full, as soon as a few details are worked out. And Science is listening.
The journal Science, and possibly Nature, will delay publication of controversial research on strains of the H5N1 flu capable of transmitting aerially between ferrets, instead opting to publish the work in full after further discussions by scientists and bioethicists make clear the best way to proceed.
Bird Flu Still a Menace in Asia and Beyond
Thought bird flu was gone? Recent human deaths in Asia and Egypt are a reminder that the H5N1 virus is still alive and dangerous, and Vietnam is grappling with a new strain that has outsmarted vaccines used to protect poultry flocks.
...The fresh wave of cases comes amid a controversy involving scientists who created new lab-only versions of the virus that spread more easily among animals, hoping to better understand it. ...
Officials have issued fresh warnings for farmers to beef up surveillance, especially since they can no longer rely on the latest poultry vaccine in the north and central aress where it is weak or useless against a new strain that has emerged in the region. ...
The new strain had earlier been identified in China and was also recently found in Bangladesh and Nepal, where it likely spread via wild birds, said Jan Slingenbergh, a senior animal health officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. ...
Do you think that by releasing it to the world, a vaccine will be created before the virus is released? That may happen (I hope so.) But doesn't that put pressure on to use the virus before the vaccine is found? Besides, the vaccine doesn't have to be looked for if the virus is never found in the first place.
Bioterror is not the biggest threat from bird flu
WHY DO we study flu? So we can protect ourselves from it. We've long since learned that H5N1 bird flu poses real reasons for concern; more recently, that it really does have the potential to become a nightmarish airborne plague. How should we react?
Not by delaying the publication of the research, for fear that it will aid supposed bioterrorists (see "Publish lethal flu virus work, says WHO"). There is surprisingly little evidence that such a threat exists. But there has long been a great deal of evidence that the threat of pandemic flu exists. …..
PM calls for urgent measures to prevent spread of bird flu
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on February 20 sent an urgent dispatch to all provincial authorities to step up measures and tighten supervision so as to prevent the spread of bird flu (H5N1) virus, which has reoccurred in Vietnam.
The dispatch clearly states of the high risk of a fresh bird flu outbreak in Vietnam. Provincial People’s Committees have been ordered to improve food hygiene, especially in slaughterhouses and processing units and constantly monitor bird flu cases so as to contain the infection. …
Indonesia reports third H5N1 death this year
A 19-year-old Indonesian woman has died of avian influenza on the outskirts of Jakarta, putting the total death toll from the disease to three this year, a statement from health ministry said on Wednesday.
Concerns about H5N1 have risen in the region following reports of deaths in Indonesia, Cambodia, China and Vietnam this year. …
Indonesia was hit hard by H5N1 virus in 2005. Nine people, including two children, were killed last year when the virus started to reoccur.
This seems like the sort of thing WHO could be having a pair of meetings on; one wide open with non-sensitive information so that the public and scientists around the world could be informed, and a smaller session for a restricted group of scientists.
Is WHO known for getting a lot of information out quickly? And the smaller session could be made public if need be.
But you've brought up the point frequently about environment pollution triggering mutations and variants. Is that a problem that can be stuffed back in the box? I'm thinking first of China and India, but Russia's pollution is world famous. Can we stop the train?
US experts give nod to publish mutant bird flu studies
A panel of US science and security experts on Friday said two papers on a mutant bird flu should be published after all, reversing its earlier decision to withhold key details, AFP reports.
...the experts saw "new evidence has emerged that underscores the fact that understanding specific mutations may improve international surveillance and public health and safety.
"Global cooperation, critical for pandemic influenza preparedness efforts, is predicated upon the free sharing of information and was a fundamental principle in evaluating these manuscripts," it added.
The NSABB faced criticism after it ruled unanimously in December that a pair of US-funded studies, one by a team from Wisconsin and the other led by Netherlands-based scientist Ron Fouchier, should not be printed without heavy edits of key details to prevent the work from being replicated.
A subsequent meeting of flu experts in Geneva came to the opposite conclusion and urged the prestigious journals Science and Nature to print them as planned...