|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:
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