Federal Moratorium Lifted On Funding To Make Germs More Lethal
But critics say researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.
The New York Times:
A Federal Ban On Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted
Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks. (McNeil, 12/19)
The Washington Post:
U.S. Lifts Research Moratorium On Enhancing Germs’ Danger
The new policy for pathogens capable of creating a pandemic will allow researchers who want to study them to apply for funding through the new process outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services. The end of the moratorium applies to research on the SARS, MERS, influenza and other dangerous viruses. The October 2014 pause was put in place after researchers in Wisconsin and the Netherlands sparked a debate by announcing in 2011 that they had made the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus more contagious in ferrets, which are used as a model for how disease might spread among humans. This kind of research is known as “gain of function” because it introduces new abilities into existing germs. (Bernstein, 12/19)