News & AnalysisAVIAN INFLUENZA

On Second Thought, Flu Papers Get Go-Ahead

Science  06 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6077, pp. 19-20
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6077.19

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Summary

Members of a U.S. government advisory panel gathered last week to reconsider their controversial December 2011 recommendation that two groups of scientists redact key details from papers describing how they made the H5N1 avian influenza virus more transmissible between mammals. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) then announced its new recommendation to the U.S. government: The two papers should be made public, in full. The studies still include information that might someday be useful to evildoers, the NSABB said in a 30 March statement, but "additional information changed the Board's risk/benefit calculation." The potential public health benefits of publishing, they had decided, now outweighed the potential harm. A WHO panel reached a similar conclusion in February.

  • * With reporting by Martin Enserink.