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NIH Responds To Criticism Over Handling Of Controversial Bird Flu Studies

In a letter (.pdf) dated April 25, Amy Patterson, associate director for science policy in the office of the director of the National Institutes of Health, “has refuted criticism of the way a meeting held to allow a biosecurity advisory group to review controversial bird flu studies was handled,” denying “the agenda was crafted to achieve a predetermined outcome,” the Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press writes. Patterson was “responding to a harsh critique of the meeting from Michael Osterholm, a member of the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity [NSABB],” who, in a letter (.doc) to Patterson dated April 12, criticized “the agenda and speakers list” of the March 29-30 meeting, the news service writes (Branswell, 5/4).

Nature Publishes First Of Two Controversial Studies On H5N1 Avian Flu

“In a long-awaited study that helped prompt a contentious debate over the wisdom of conducting research that has the potential to help as well as harm, scientists reported Wednesday that they had engineered a mutant strain of [H5N1] bird flu that can spread easily between ferrets — a laboratory animal that responds to flu viruses much as people do,” the Los Angeles Times (Brown, 5/3). Published in the journal Nature, the study is “the first of two controversial papers about laboratory-enhanced versions of the deadly bird flu virus that initially sparked fears among U.S. biosecurity experts that it could be used as a recipe for a bioterrorism weapon,” Reuters writes (Steenhuysen, 5/2). The U.S. National Security Advisory Board on Biosecurity “had asked journals to hold off publishing” the studies, but “[t]he panel later dropped its objections after it became clear the engineered viruses were less virulent than had been feared,” according to the Washington Post (Brown, 5/2).

Nearly 3B Risk Ill Health From Household Air Pollution

Agence France-Presse: 2.8 bln risk ill health from home air pollution “Nearly three billion people risk ill health and early death merely from breathing the air in their homes that is polluted by fires made for cooking and heating, researchers said…”(9/3).

un agReports Of H7N9 Cases, Deaths Continue From Across China

“Two more people have died in China from a new strain of bird flu, raising the death toll from the virus to 13, state media reported Sunday,” the Associated Press reports. “A total of 11 new cases were reported Sunday — including two in a central province that previously had…

Health Officials Have Reason To ‘Remain Hypervigilant’ Over H7N9

“Just as the world was breathing easier about a deadly bird flu virus that killed 371 people over the past decade before dropping out of sight, a different form of bird flu has emerged in China that is causing concern among health experts,” a New York Times editorial writes. “So far there…

GAPPD Presents Opportunity To Meld Global, Local Agendas

“Beyond integration across the two diseases, the [Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) released by the WHO and UNICEF last week] is an opportunity to meld global and local agendas, giving national governments a comprehensive tool to determine the specific plans, investments, and partners needed…

Editorials Address China’s Response To Emergence Of H7N9 Bird Flu Strain

The following is a summary of editorials addressing China’s response to the emergence of a new strain of bird flu, H7N9. Bloomberg Businessweek: “The H7N9 strain contains gene sequences that make it relatively effective, for a bird virus, at infecting humans and other mammals,” Bloomberg writes. However, “[t]his is no reason to…

Number Of H7N9 Cases Surpasses 100; U.S. CDC Warns Physicians To Be Vigilant

“The number of bird flu cases in China jumped Sunday to 102, including 20 deaths, the World Health Organization announced,” CNN reports, noting 70 patients remain hospitalized with the new H7N9 avian flu strain and the “WHO said there is still no evidence of human-to-human transmission” (Gray/Armstrong, 4/22). “‘Until the…