The publication in this issue of these research papers on the airborne tranimssion [sic] of H5N1 marks the end of 8 months of controversy over whether some of the data, now freely accessible, should be withheld in the public interest.”
I think this is an important landmark in the so-called “dual use” debate: that is, the propensity of bodies in the US to attempt to regulate the release of information that MAY be usable in the making of bioweapons, or be usable in bioterror attacks.
Let us diffidently point out at this juncture that it is only really the superpowers who are definitively known in recent years to have had bioweapons programmes – apart from apartheid-era South Africa, that is! – and that damn nearly ANYTHING published on transmission or mechanisms of pathogenicity of human or animal pathogens (or even plant, for that matter) could be termed “dual use” if someone wanted to – and censored as a result.
It is also – as I tire of pointing out – possible to PROTECT against H5NX viruses using conventional vaccines right now – and the new universal flu vaccines coming on stream will almost certainly make this even more feasible.
The fact is that H5N1 flu is an ever-present threat to people living in Egypt, Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand and China – WITHOUT being weaponised. It is no more than a notional threat to the US or Europe – and keeping information that could help in understanding how or how soon the virus could mutate to pandemicity out of people’s hands, is simply stupid.
See on www.sciencemag.org