Bird Flu and Data Sharing

May 30th, 2006 by John Wilbanks

Thanks to Eric Kansa of the Alexandria Archive for the forward.

From last week’s washington post:

As fears of an influenza pandemic grow, a struggle has emerged between experts who believe the latest genetic data on the H5N1 bird flu virus should be made public immediately and others who fear that such a policy would alienate the countries collecting virus samples and the scientists analyzing them.

The issue may come to a head this week at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the governing body of the World Health Organization. Health ministers from more than 190 countries will consider a resolution that would require them to provide flu data and virus samples to the scientific community “in a timely manner.”

The key quote:
“Science just moves more rapidly when you share the data openly,” said Steven L. Salzberg, a computer scientist at the University of Maryland and a leader of the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project at the National Institutes of Health.

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