What was supposed to be a 60-day moratorium on certain experiments involving lab-altered bird flu has now lasted more than eight months. And there's no clear end in sight.
Researchers still disagree on how to best manage the risks posed by mutant forms of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu. The altered viruses are contagious between ferrets, which are the lab stand-in for humans. The fear is that these germs could potentially cause a deadly flu pandemic in people if they ever escaped the lab.
The journal mBio has now published six commentaries from key players in the debate.
One of them is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the controversial work. He writes that the U.S. government is planning to host an international workshop before the end of the year to consider whether certain experiments on H5N1 should be conducted at all.