Monday, January 23, 2012

The new H5N1: "There’s nothing else in its league,"

A Call to Stop H5N1 Research
Sabrina Richards. The Scientist. January 23, 2012.
Among the changes needed, “we should have in place a system of prior review,” Ebright said, such as a group of disinterested parties tasked with weighing the risk of such studies.
There's an idea! And it puts the lie to the tired claim made by every U.S. vivisector, university, and the other institutions involved in similar work, that there is already extensive prior review.

This is comforting:
Steinbruner argues for keeping “professional regulators” out of the picture for now in order to come to a conclusion more quickly. “Scientists must take the initiative to find an arrangement [of regulations] they can live with” before disaster strikes, he said. Though the name may not inspire the same nightmares as Ebola or anthrax, influenza may be the perfect agent for a pandemic, with H5N1 showing greater than 50 percent mortality in the five hundred people who have contracted the virus directly from infected poultry—well above the 2.5 percent mortality rate of the 1918 flu, which killed over 50 million people. “There’s nothing else in its league,” Steinbruner said.

Wouldn't you think that brewing up something this dangerous ought to be a topic of serious discussion in Madison, home of one of the two labs in the world with this bomb on the shelf? The fact that it hasn't been has a lot to say about how well local media are keeping the public apprised. It says something about local media's reluctance to say anything that could lead to negative opinions about the university. The risk to the public, coupled with the past problems in Yoshihiro Kawaoka's lab with Ebola, would seem a reasonable and important topic for public discussion.

Wouldn't you think that the state's university where this research is occurring ought to be holding public forums about it? Maybe public education isn't a high priority for them.

Maybe they don't care what the public knows or thinks.... that's how it looks to me.

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