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Mon May 24, 2021, 10:55 AM

from Science American 2014 -"Bio-Unsafety Level 3: Could the Next Lab Accident Result in a Pandemic?

FROM JULY 2014 - So-called gain-of-function pathogen research will likely receive closer scrutiny after three U.S. biolab incidents

There had to be a sinking feeling in the chest of every researcher who works in a high-containment research laboratory last Friday when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its report on three worrisome incidents that raised safety questions at two well-respected government facilities. But it is likely the sensation was most acute for the influenza scientists who work in a controversial field known as gain-of-function research.

On Friday Director Tom Frieden revealed that someone in the CDC's influenza division had accidentally contaminated a vial of a relatively mild bird flu virus with the worst one known, H5N1. The Atlanta-based CDC then shipped the vial to unsuspecting researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory up the road in Athens, Ga., who used its contents to infect some unlucky chickens.

There is no suggestion the unfortunate event was anything other than human error, and no one—except the chickens—was made ill as a result of the mistake. But the fact that it happened, and could happen again, has given valuable ammunition to a group of scientists who have been arguing for the past couple of years that gain-of-function work on influenza viruses is too dangerous to undertake.

Such studies take flu viruses found in nature and, in essence, try to make them more dangerous. The aim is to see what it would take for viruses like H5N1, which currently rarely infect people, to gain the ability to easily transmit to and among us. Coughs and sneezes propel human flu viruses through populations, and scientists have found that by adding mutations and passing viruses from ferret to ferret enough times, they can push bird viruses to spread that way among the animals, which often stand in for people in flu research.


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Reply from Science American 2014 -"Bio-Unsafety Level 3: Could the Next Lab Accident Result in a Pandemic? (Original post)
womanofthehills May 2021 OP
womanofthehills May 2021 #1

Response to womanofthehills (Original post)

Mon May 24, 2021, 11:22 AM

1. This is why Obama shut down our gain of function work in 2014 - but Trump started it again

U.S. halts funding for new risky virus studies, calls for voluntary moratorium

By Jocelyn Kaiser, David MalakoffOct. 17, 2014 , 5:45 PM

The White House today stepped into an ongoing debate about controversial virus experiments with a startling announcement: It is
halting all federal funding for so-called gain-of-function (GOF) studies that alter a pathogen to make it more transmissible or deadly so that experts can work out a U.S. government-wide policy for weighing the risks. Federal officials are also asking the handful of researchers doing ongoing work in this area to agree to a voluntary moratorium.

The “pause on funding,” a White House blog states, applies to “any new studies … that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route.” The government also “encourages those currently conducting this type of work—whether federally funded or not—to voluntarily pause their research while risks and benefits are being reassessed.” Research and testing of naturally occurring forms of these pathogens will continue.


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