Bioterror fears halt research on mutant bird flu – BBC News

  • 20 January 2012

Image caption Almost all H5N1 human cases have been contracted through contact with live or dead poultry

Scientists who created a potentially more deadly bird flu strain have temporarily stopped their research amid fears it could be used by terrorists.

In a letter published in Science and Nature, the teams call for an “international forum” to debate the risks and value of the studies.

US authorities last month asked the authors of the research to redact key details in forthcoming publications.

A government advisory panel suggested the data could be used by terrorists.

Biosecurity experts fear an altered, more contagious form of the virus could spark a pandemic deadlier than the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak that killed up to 40 million people.

‘Right step’

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) recommended key details be omitted from publication of the research, which sparked international furore.

“I would have preferred if this hadn’t caused so much controversy, but it has happened and we can’t change that,” Ron Fouchier, a researcher from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, told Science Insider.

…(read more).

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