What's the Latest Development?
A 60-day moratorium has been put on an international research effort into the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus which resulted in the creation of a more communicable strain of the disease. Dutch and American scientists wanted to know if the virus, which has been smoldering in South East Asia for years, could mutate and become communicable through the air while retaining its virulence. The answer to that questions is yes, at least between ferrets, which were used as test subjects during the research.
What's the Big Idea?
An agreement has already been reached with scientists and journalists to withhold information on how the new strain of H5N1 was created. Only the conclusion of the research will be made available to the public while scientists and public health officials who "need to know" will have full access. The World Health Organization has said it fears that limiting the availability of the research could undermine efforts to prepare for a flu pandemic. Some public health officials say that people with nefarious intentions might exploit the research.
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