European scientists have created a deadly strain of the bird flu, and now want to publish the details of exactly how they did it, The Independent reported.
The mutant version of the bird flu virus strain, created in a Dutch laboratory, has the potential to infect and kill millions of people. The scientists were able to mutate the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which could be transmitted easily through the air, the Daily Mail reported. It was developed in order to help create vaccines for the disease.
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Immediately upon hearing the news, the US Government was worried that if the directions on how to make the strain fall into the hands of terrorists, it could be used as a bio-weapon of mass destruction, The Independent reported. Now the United States is taking advice on whether the information is too dangerous to be published.
"We need to be very vigilant. This is something that we talked about a lot this morning," French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) in Paris, the AFP reported. The GHSI is comprised of the G7 group of industrialized nations plus Mexico, the European Union’s Commission and the World Health Organization.
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A research team led by Ron Fouchier at Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Center said in September it had created a mutant version of the H5N1 bird flu virus that could for the first time be spread among mammals, the AFP reported. The bird flu strain is fatal in 60 percent of human cases although only 350 people have died from the disease because it isn’t transmittable among humans yet.
"The Dutch authorities confirmed that the virus itself is stored in a very secured way and that the necessary permits were given and that the researchers are bound by a code of conduct," said John Dalli, EU Health Commissioner, the AFP reported.
The findings were supposed to be published in the American Journal Science, but the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is now reviewing the paper, the Daily Mail reported.
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