H5N1 Bird Flu Virus Research Data – How Dangerous Is It?

The World Health Organization, WHO will soon publish its ideas on how to share vital new research information within the scientific community. The information pertains to the H5N1 virus in human populations. Awaiting these ideas with impatience is the scientific press who are voluntarily holding back data that could potentially be used by the enemies of western society to build biological bombs. It is an important part of the public health fight to prevent global pandemics to share this data as soon as possible.

The Dangers of H5N1 Virus Research Data

Without a way to circulate the latest bird flu research data to all those other scientists who will benefit from it in their work to protect public health, the American Association for the Advancement of Science believes they need to publish it ‘warts and all’. Their two key papers that are like Pandora’s box if they were to fall into the wrong hands. One was submitted to the journal ‘Science’ and the other to ‘Nature’. Both papers prove how easily the H5N1 bird flu virus can be mutated into a far more virulent strain.

It was the US National Security Board for Biotechnology, NSABB which asked the authors to censor the more controversial parts of their studies, lest the fall into the wrong minds. Many scientists saw this request as a restriction of intellectual freedom and a pointless exercise, since the researchers had already presented their findings at previous forums.

National Security Issues

The NSABB is recently contrived body of American scientists and security personnel. Their role is to identify research that may possibly be of concern to national security and enforce redaction on sensitive information, as in this case. It is the first test of the new body’s responsibilities since its inception in 2005. None of the scientists, either on the Board or in the community at large welcome the interference but they do appreciate the need for it. They feel it is the best mechanism they are going to get. To ignore the board would be to undermine a mechanism that could be a great deal worse. The stumbling block in this case, and all subsequent ones is agreed process for validating receivers of redacted data.

The report authors have been considering suggestions on ways to control the dissemination of the data to only bona fide readers. They believe their findings an important piece of the vaccination jigsaw puzzle for H5N1. The information can help both develop a vaccine and monitor the virus for warning signs of dangerous mutation. This work is of course on hold while the security questions are dealt with and decided upon by the researchers and the journals involved.

Whatever the final decision is, and there is a summit of the WHO in Geneva this week, there is no doubt that health authorities need to take the threat of bird flu mutation very seriously indeed. Because while the scientific community and the American guardians ponder and work towards an international resolution, the viruses are adapting rapidly in the natural world.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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