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U.S. Science Advisory Board Asks Science, Nature To Omit Data From Bird Flu Studies Amid Security Concerns

The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity on “Tuesday asked two scientific journals to leave out data from research studies on a lab-made version of bird flu that could spread more easily to humans, fearing it could be used as a potential weapon,” Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, 12/20). The board “recommended that the journals Science and Nature publish only the general discoveries, not the full blueprint for these man-made strains,” the Associated Press notes (Neergaard, 12/20). “Editors at the journals … say they will not agree to the redactions until they are assured the data will be accessible to researchers” according to BBC News (12/20).

“The labs found that it appears easier than scientists had thought for the so-called H5N1 bird flu to evolve in a way that lets it spread easily between at least some mammals,” the AP writes (12/20). “The articles involved work done by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist, and Dr. Ron Fouchier and colleagues from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam,” Reuters reports (12/20). Their research “show[s] how a bird flu variant can pass easily between ferrets,” BBC notes. “At least one set of scientists have already rewritten their paper in light of the recommendation, Science reports,” and the other is “reluctantly submitting a revised paper to Nature, a university spokesman confirmed to Science,” BBC writes (12/20).

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