Research on a much more deadly strain of the bird flu was forced to come to a halt as a group of scientists who wanted to try and study the virus in depth were pressured to stop. This came after major controversial objection to the research. It seems some people in the medical community feared contamination and spread could result from such a study.
The scientists who are in question took a strain of the H5N1 Bird Flu and altered it in order to create an even deadlier form of the virus. This was apparently done in an effort come to some sort of definitive conclusion, and of course to determine something concise on the development and evolution of pandemics, according to spokespeople. The Bird Flu virus has already claimed the lives of 300 people in 600 cases which were reported since the virus was found in 1997.
The group of scientists has stated that they will wait two months and halt their studies in order to enable the global scientific community to vent and state the problems they have with the research. These scientists are making an unusual concession by agreeing to stop their studies as this is not something that is commonly seen. Suspensions on any type of scientific studies that occur voluntarily are almost unheard of. This shows a very good act of faith on the part of these researchers. Perhaps they recognize the value of reassessing their decision to alter the strain.
There are several key points of the study which are being called dangerous. For one a deadlier strain of the virus, should it somehow get released into the population could result in a world-wide pandemic that could lead to millions of deaths. In addition, some accusations have been set forth that scientists performing these types of studies could eventually use this information to actually assist future pandemics in spreading. While that may be unlikely it is certainly a valid concern.
The research has been receiving its funding from the National Institutes of Health and is being performed in collaboration with Erasmus MC located in the Netherlands, as well as with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In a letter published by the group of scientists participating in the study, they stated something to effect of understanding and recognizing that the entire scientific community does have the right to go over the study and the possible benefits and risks. In addition, the group seems to be willing to make sure that the whole scientific community is on the same page where safety is concerned.
It is believed we will learn more about this situation once the period of 60 says has passed. At this time the scientists will either resume the research or put an end to the entire study, the latter being less likely. The good news is that a time period of rest and thought will most certainly help everyone act in a much more responsible way on this matter, taking as many precautions as needed.