Ann Conkle
Jan 20, 2012

Avian flu research halted amid concerns about mutated virus

In a surprising move, researchers conducting debated studies using a mutated, highly contagious form of the H5N1 avian flu virus have suspended their work for 60 days and have called for an international conference to discuss the issue. In a letter published today in Science and Nature, the researchers write, “We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks. We propose to do so in an international forum in which the scientific community comes together to discuss and debate these issues...To provide time for these discussions, we have agreed on a voluntary pause of 60 days on any research involving highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses.” According to ScienceInsider, a conference on the issue may be hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva in late February.