Wednesday, January 25, 2012

H5N1: Emerging Rationality? Let's Hope.

Caution urged for mutant flu work
Public-health benefits of controversial research questioned.
Declan Butler. Nature. 25 January 2012

.... More than a dozen flu experts contacted by Nature say they believe that the work opens up important vistas in basic research, and that it sends a valuable warning about the potential for the virus to spark a human pandemic. But they caution that virus surveillance systems are ill-equipped to detect such mutations arising in flu viruses. As such, work on the viruses is unlikely to offer significant, immediate public-health benefits, they say.

That tips the balance of risk–benefit assessment in favour of a cautious approach, says Michael Osterholm, who heads the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis, and who is a member of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB).

...
Again... where was the initial thoughtful, insightful oversight that is claimed to guide and regulate taxpayer-funded research?

I repeat: We ought to destroy all the petri dishes, all the records, everything we have that might allow us to move forward with this line of research. The researchers themselves ought to be forced into retirement and banned for life from having any contact with any germ lab. Oversight committees that approved the research ought to be disbanded and new more rational people selected to serve on them. Agencies that approved and funded the research ought to be purged of anyone who voted for or signed off on the approval of funding this absolute insanity.

Interesting related bit:
Virus in one controversial H5N1 study wasn't lethal
Jan 25, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – Breaking a prolonged silence, the author of one of two controversial studies dealing with mutant H5N1 viruses said today that the virus his team created went airborne to spread among ferrets, but it didn't kill them.

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