By David, Senior Writer
NEW FRONTIER NEWS – The US government has repealed a ban on the creation of deadly viruses, citing that it will benefit the much-needed research necessary to “develop strategies and effective countermeasures against rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health.”
The statement was announced by Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health, along with a new framework for lethal virus research. Three viruses can be researched, but must be reviewed by a scientific review panel and determined whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks.
This decision is one that has brought the end of a three year prohibition of research on the Influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses. Critics of the decision believe that the virus could easily escape a lab if it is not properly stored.
In 2014, the government halted the research to review handling and storage practices involving the viruses. At the time in 2014, Collins said that biosafety/security risks needed to be evaluated closer.
The cause of the moratorium on the viruses was mishandling of potentially dangerous pathogens at government operated labs.
In 2014, the CDC accidentally exposed workers to the lethal Anthrax virus. Another instance was the discovery of vials of smallpox in an unsecured refrigerator at the National Institute of Health’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
The institutes say that research would only be approved if the institutes have the “capacity and commitment to conduct it safely and securely, and have the ability to respond rapidly,” and that the research must be “ethically justifiable.”
Former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, applauds and welcomes the decision with welcome arms, saying such studies “help scientists better understand how dangerous organisms work, with the ultimate goal of learning how to stop them.”
Drash, W. (2017). Why the government is creating lethal viruses. Retrieved from cnn.com: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/health/nih-deadly-viruses-bn/index.html
McNeil, D. J. (2017). A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted. Retrieved from nytimes.com: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/19/health/lethal-viruses-nih.html