Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mutant Bird Flu Studies Should Be Revealed in Full, Experts Say

The results of two studies that created more transmissible forms of the H5N1 bird flu virus will be published in full — at some point, flu scientists and public health officials meeting today (Feb. 17) at the World Health Organization have agreed.

A moratorium on research on lab-created viruses and H5N1 transmission in mammals, as well as on the publication of the two studies, will continue, most likely lasting "a matter of months," said Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security and the environment, in a news conference with reporters today at the conclusion of the two-day meeting.

The delay is needed to explain the importance of the research and address anxieties the research has raised, Fukuda said. The delay would also allow officials time to re-assess the biosafety and biosecurity conditions necessary for this kind of work. He pointed out, there was no hint of problems at the two facilities in question.  

The group of 22 officials reached a "quite strong agreement that full disclosure of the information contained in these studies was really important from both the public health and scientific perspectives," Fukuda said.

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