January 29, 2012
One of the scientists at the centre of the controversy over the creation a highly dangerous form of bird flu which could cause a devastating human pandemic has denounced attempts by the US Government to censor the research over fears that the findings might be misused by bioterrorists.
Yoshihiro Kawaoka, virologist at the universities of Tokyo and Wisconsin Madison, said that the recommendations of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity are unworkable and would make it harder for legitimate scientists to develop vaccines and drugs against new strains of pandemic flu.
Professor Kawaoka leads one of the two teams of scientists that have created “airborne” strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus that can be transmitted in coughs and sneezes between laboratory ferrets, the standard animal “model” of human influenza.
The second team, led by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, has achieved similar results using a different technique, and has also criticised the biosecurity board’s recommendations.