Posted in: Health Studies

Bird Flu Research Resumes Amid BioTerrorism Controversy

avian flu H5N1

A year-long Bird Flu research ban was just lifted. Concerns about bioterror threats are making the scientific study a very controversial topic. Proponents of the research consider the continued study a potentially life-saving endeavor. Detractors feel that a man-made disaster could be just around the corner.

Earlier this week a coalition of 40 leading international scientists released a statement noting that Bird Flu research moratorium had been lifted. Scientists can now once again study avian flu mutated strains, The Star notes.

The Bird Flu ban was designed to last just 60 days, but ultimately went on for an entire year. The research moratorium was announced after two studies which were considered very controversial. During the studies easier-to-spread versions of H5N1 were generated, ABC News reports.

The international debate concerning the study of the Bird Flu created a face-off between biosecurity professionals and scientists. Bioterror experts were (and many still are) concerned about a human-generated pandemic springing from the avian flu research.

The letter from the coalition of scientists noted that the Bird flu ban was lifted because its goals had been met. The moratorium was reportedly designed to increase public awareness, establish H5N1, or avian flu policies in place. The H5N1 research ban was also designed to give time for inflamed tempers to cool. The renewed backlash from biosecurity expects appears to indicate that even an uneasy calm does not yet exist.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, had this to say about Bird Flu research:

“We believe the benefits of H5N1 virus transmission research outweigh the risks and that is why we need to resume these studies. The risk exists in nature already and not doing the research is really putting us in danger.”

Dr. Kawaoka was one of the lead scientists in controversial studies which occurred before the H5N1 ban. Bird Flu reportedly kills 60 percent of infected humans. Although deadly, the avian flu is not yet airborne. Researchers feel if H5N1 evolves into easier person-to-person transmission, it could present a true pandemic threat.

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