Editor backs change to bird flu policy

2012-02-18 12:28

Vancouver - The editor of the US journal Science said on Friday he supports the decision of bird flu experts in Geneva to make public controversial research about a mutant form of the H5N1 virus.

"The supreme court of decision-making on these things should not be me," said Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science, which along with the British journal Nature had been on track to publish partial versions of the research in March.

Alberts said the two journals were working closely with each other and with authorities, and would await further information before making plans to publish the manuscripts in full in the months ahead.

US biosecurity chiefs urged in November that key details of the papers remain unpublished, citing fears of a pandemic should a mutated H5N1 virus escape the laboratory.

However, Alberts said they ran into a host of problems when it came to disseminating the research in restricted channels across international borders, and the effort had to be abandoned.

"Many people in the government worked very hard to try to see whether they could develop a mechanism that could be used to selectively get redacted information to the right people, and they came across all kinds of difficulties."

The engineered virus, created by two separate research teams in the Netherlands and Wisconsin, was able to spread through the air among mammals, indicating it could potentially be deadly to humans on a massive scale.

Alberts said he hoped that the decision taken after a two-day meeting at the World Health Organisation would lead to the creation of an international body of scientists and biosecurity experts for making future decisions on such matters.

"The very best possible outcome for this is the establishment of an international version of the NSABB," he said, referring to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a US advisory panel that urged the government, which had funded the research, to withhold key details from publication.

However, NSABB leaders said last year that an international decision was needed and that they would obey any decision agreed by the global science community.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    who  |  research  |  avian flu

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Du Preez key to Boks' success
Cheika taking it one game at a time
Cotter: 'No beer bribe for Samoa'
England lost trying to copy All Blacks
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.