Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Was flu work done 'under the radar'?

One point that Yoshihiro Kawaoka touched uponduring the CEIRS network webinar that I failed to discuss is the idea that the H5 transmission research was done in secret and blindsided the powers that be as has been speculated on in the media.  Let's take a closer look.  
Is that Fouchier or Kawaoka?  See what I did there
  In 2009 The WHO suggested that researchers investigate what it would take to create mammalian adapted H5.  A similar proposal had been issued previously by the NIH in 2006. On top of that, the RO1 grant that paid for Kawaoka's research had 5 specific aims.  The first two specifically proposed the research presented in the controversial paper.  Aim 1) adapt H5N1 from birds to humans. Aim2). induce respiratory transmission.  The methods that his team used to create these viruses have been used previously with other avian influenza viruses to produce similar results (Wan et al., Sorrell et al.).  Finally, all studies involving animal test subjects are reviewed by a panel of university officials, researchers, and outside community members for ethics and welfare. Additionally, the research was reviewed annually by the UW-Madison IBC to ensure no inappropriate research is conducted with potentially dangerous pathogens.

This is not how science happens.
This research was vetted at the local, national, and international level. The studies were not conducted by rogue scientists by misappropriating grant money.  This is not a case of intentionally breaking rules and hoping an apology afterwards is will prevent punishment.  They were not hiding unethical research they wanted to do, but knew others wouldn't understand. ------------>
The university annually inspected it, the NIH approved it and funded it, and the WHO called for it to be done.  To say now that these scientist acted irresponsibly in secret is either revisionist history, or spouting off on something with no understanding of how it works.  But the media would never do that, right?

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