WHO “deeply concerned” by mutated birdflu research By Kate Kelland – LONDON | Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:43pm EST
The World Health Organization issued a stern warning on Friday to scientists who have engineered a highly pathogenic form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, saying their work carries significant risks and must be tightly controlled.
The United Nations health body said it was “deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences” of work by two leading flu research teams who this month said they had found ways to make H5N1 into a easily transmissible form capable of causing lethal human pandemics.
The work by the teams, one in The Netherlands and one in the United States, has already prompted an unprecedented censorship call from U.S. security advisers who fear that publishing details of the research could give potential attackers the know-how to make a bioterror weapon.
H5N1 bird flu is extremely deadly in people who are directly exposed to it from infected birds. Since the virus was first detected in 1997, about 600 people have contracted it and more than half of them have died.
But so far it has not yet naturally mutated into a form that can pass easily from person to person, although many scientists fear this kind of mutation is likely to happen at some point and will constitute a major health threat if it does.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health funded the two research teams to carry out research into how the virus could become more transmissible in humans, with the aim of gaining insight on how to react if the mutation occurred naturally.
WHO also said it was vital that new rules on the sharing of viruses and scientific know-how were enforced to ensure those countries at most immediate risk from H5N1, mainly developing countries in Asia such as Indonesia, Vietnam and others, would benefit from advances in research.
AWESOME!!! GREAT NEWS!!! And BTW, what’s the point again?