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WHO Experts Suspend Publishing "Bird Flu" Researches: Fears of Bioterrorism

WHO Experts Suspend Publishing

(ePharmaNews) A small group of global public health and influenza experts at a WHO meeting reached consensus on extending the temporary suspension of publishing researches related to the new laboratory-modified H5N1 viruses.


The story started several months ago, when two separate laboratories in Netherland and U.S.A revealed that a handful of mutations in the current H5N1 virus can make it transmittable among humans. In case that happens, the expected mortality will be 60% of infected persons, which means millions of people.
For this reason, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) requested holding the results of those researches to prevent them from falling in the "wrong" hands.
The meeting, which was held on Feb 19th, reached a conclusion that the benefits of these researches outweigh the possible harm; which means that necessity of completing the research projects, but public concerns should be dealt with before publishing the results.
'There is a preference from a public health perspective for full disclosure of the information in these two studies. However there is significant public concern surrounding this research that should first be addressed,' says Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General of Health Security and Environment for the World Health Organization.
The world health organization mentioned on the website that a broader range of experts and interested parties will meet in the future to further discuss the issues.
What is H5N1 influenza virus?
The H5N1 virus, first detected in Hong Kong in 1997, is entrenched among poultry in many countries. Though embrace high fatality rate, the current forms of the virus are hard-to-catch by humans, and a close contact with infected birds is a mandatory element in all-documented cases.
Last year, two teams of scientists - one led by Ron Fouchier at Erasmus Medical Center and another led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin - said they had found the mutations required to allow H5N1 to spread like ordinary flu between mammals, and remain as deadly as it is now.

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Prepared by: Awss Zidan

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