The U.S. government asked two journals not to publish details of a study for fear that is used to create a biological weapon
WASHINGTON, The Government of the United States said today that they asked the journals Nature and Science not to publish the details of two studies on a new deadly strain of avian influenza virus, for fear that if they fall into wrong hands can be used to create a biological weapon.
The unprecedented request made by the Department of Health and Human Services after a recommendation by the National Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB, in English), it was useful to the magazines, which nevertheless evaluate how to proceed and have already made some changes in they had planned to publish.
“Certain information obtained through these studies has the potential to be misused for harmful purposes,” he said in a statement the National Institute of Health (NIH, in English) under the Department of Health.
The studies, conducted in laboratories of the Universities of Wisconsin (EU) and Erasmus of Rotterdam (Netherlands), managed to unravel a new strain of H5N1 virus, popularly known as bird flu, which has the potential to spread much more rapidly among people
This could make the virus “a very serious global threat to public health,” the NIH.
Therefore, and because of fears that information about the new strain can be used as a new tool of bioterrorism, a committee of experts reviewed the manuscript NSABB describe laboratory experiments and recommended that only publish their results, but “no methodological details. ”
However, the U.S. government recognizes the “potential benefits” of information for research and global monitoring of influenza, so it works to establish a mechanism whereby people with a “legitimate need” a “secure” the details of the studies, according to the NIH.
“It’s very important to get the information for all people worldwide living with the virus and work on it,” he said for his part in a news editor of Science, Dr. Bruce Alberts.
Alberts also noted that the request of the Government of the United States marks “a turning point” because it is believed to be the first time that something like that with a legitimate research on public health.
In another statement, the editor of Nature, Dr. Philip Campbell, said his magazine discusses the “appropriate access to scientific methods” of study and how the details “may be enabled.”
“It is essential to public health that all the details of scientific studies of influenza virus are available to researchers,” said Campbell
- US asks scientific journals to censor bird flu studies (guardian.co.uk)
- US Govt Asks Scientists To Keep Lab-Bred Bird Flu Blueprint Secret (medicalnewstoday.com)