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Ron Fouchier. To publish or not to publish...

by: Bronco Bill

Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 08:33:05 AM EST

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS-Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.
Bronco Bill :: Ron Fouchier. To publish or not to publish...
The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it's likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.

In a 17th floor office in the same building, virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center calmly explains why his team created what he says is "probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make"-and why he wants to publish a paper describing how they did it. Fouchier is also bracing for a media storm. After he talked to ScienceInsider yesterday, he had an appointment with an institutional press officer to chart a communication strategy.

Fouchier's paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism. Source Here


The article, and many others that refer to the studies, gives both arguments as to whether the papers should be published. On one hand, medical science could be helped in finding a cure for airborne H5N1, if it should ever be needed, but on the other hand, thousands, if not millions, could potentially die if this new strain of H5N1 were to ever be released, either accidentally or maliciously.

What are your thoughts? Should the paper be published in its entirety? And please, no politics...thanks.

Some other sources for articles:

Popular Science

This from ABC News on December 21, 2011:
The virologist who created a potentially dangerous, mutant strain of the deadly bird flu virus has agreed to omit methodology details from his published reports on the new strain. The decision came after the U.S. government warned Tuesday that published details of the experiment could be used to create a biological warfare weapon.

Dutch Scientist Agrees to Omit Published Details of Highly Contagious Bird Flu Findings

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Important to publish
Fouchier's paper can be published without the "recipe" and still do a world of good. Hopefully it will get people off the dime and realizing that it may be a matter of when and not if, this virus gets its act together in nature.
The Frankenvirus will not be a perfect match, but can be a seed virus for a vaccine for those who desire it. This vaccine may not confer enough immunity to prevent the illness, but it may prevent mass death and the follow on disruptions.
It took 9 months for me to obtain an H1N1 vaccination. It will be game over with this virus after 9 months.  

Apparently, Fouchier found it relatively easy to mutate the H5N1 virus to become airborne.
The information already released may be just enough to start a lot of experimenting by scientists who would use it in a heart beat against any population they deem their enemies. There are some very "bad guys" out there with some really crazy ideas.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Possibly best to act as if...?
Seems from the number of scientists who say the info already released is "enough" that the rest should not be published, and those with the ability should be acting as if it were "game time" and pushing a vaccine from the variant flu germ ASAP! Surely there are sufficient labs with the high-security authorization to investigate this without danger to the public? They should be funded with a top priority to make a vaccine. (but I'm not a scientist, just a member of the public.)




ask experts for their subjective
panflu death expectation values
and report the replies

Deadly Flu Strain Research paused...
Scientists to Pause Research on Deadly Strain of Bird Flu

The scientists who altered a deadly flu virus to make it more contagious have agreed to suspend their research for 60 days to give other international experts time to discuss the work and determine how it can proceed without putting the world at risk of a potentially catastrophic pandemic.



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