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Yearlong Moratorium On H5N1 Research Soon Lifted, New Rules Implemented, Science Reports

“U.S. government officials say they expect to put the finishing touches this month on new rules designed to help funding agencies identify and regulate especially problematic H5N1 studies before they begin,” which would allow influenza researchers “to lift a year-old, self-imposed moratorium on certain kinds of potentially dangerous experiments,” Science reports. “The two developments would essentially end a long and bruising controversy over the risks and benefits of H5N1 research,” the magazine notes, adding the debate was initiated by two research teams that lab-engineered H5N1 strains to be transmissible among mammals. “The issue has been especially sensitive for the U.S. government, because its National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the two studies and is one of the world’s biggest funders of H5N1 research,” Science writes. The magazine discusses the moratorium’s impact on research worldwide and summarizes differing views about its effects (Malakoff, 1/4).

WHO Reports Significant Decrease In Measles Deaths Over Past Decade But Warns Large Outbreaks In Certain Regions Threaten Progress

“While the number of measles deaths around the world has significantly decreased over the past decade, large outbreaks in certain regions are jeopardizing progress, the United Nations health agency said [Thursday], adding that improved vaccination rates are critical to eliminate the disease,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Between 2000 and 2011, measles…

Cases Of New Coronavirus Rises To 17, Number Of Deaths Is 11

“The deadly and mysterious coronavirus that first appeared in Saudi Arabia last year has claimed two more victims, bringing the official death toll to 11,” and the case count to 17, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. “The 17 patients identified so far are just the ‘tip of…

Hong Kong Researchers Examine Health Risks Of New SARS-Like Virus

“A new coronavirus that emerged in the Middle East last fall could be deadlier than the SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed 774 people between 2002 and 2003, researchers from the University of Hong Kong said … in a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases this…

Some Public Health Experts Concerned Over Saudi Arabia’s Response To SARS-Like Virus

“A SARS-like virus has infected 15 people, nine of whom have died, mostly in Saudi Arabia, worrying some Western scientists who question whether the kingdom is sharing enough critical data on the outbreak,” “[b]ut a top Saudi Arabia health official rejected those complaints on Tuesday and said the virus posed…

New Strain Of Avian Flu Kills Two Chinese Men, Officials Say

“Two people in China have died and another remains critical after falling ill with a strain of bird flu not detected before in humans, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported,” CNN reports (Mullen, 4/1). “The authorities said the two Shanghai men, 27 and 87 years old, fell ill after contracting…

WHO Considers Sending Experts To China As Death Toll From H7N9 Virus Hits 7

The WHO “is talking with the Chinese government about sending international experts to China to help investigate a new bird flu strain that has sickened at least 24 people, killing seven of them,” the Associated Press reports. “A 64-year-old retired man in Shanghai became the latest victim of the H7N9…

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