Restrict future research on bird flu virus, HSPH experts recommend

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard School of Public Health, and former HSPH dean Barry Bloom, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Professor of Public Health, and colleagues co-authored a commentary in the journal Science to accompany the publication of a second controversial study about the bird flu virus, H5N1.

The article, published June 22, 2012 in the journal Science, was cited by the New York Times and other media reporting on how two teams of scientists manipulated the H5N1 virus until it spread through the air from one ferret to another, showing how the virus could theoretically spread to other mammals, including people. Publication of the studies was blocked for several months due to biosecurity concerns.

The commentary authors recommend future research of this type be limited, more consideration be given to the risks and benefits before the work is undertaken, and that such research be restricted to just a few labs worldwide, states a June 26, 2012 article from The Canadian Press news agency.

Read the Science study and commentary

Read the New York Times article

Read The Canadian Press article

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Watch The Forum Webcast “Bird Flu Research: Dangerous Information on a Deadly Virus” (Feb. 15, 2012)