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Mass Panic Over Bird Flu Experiments

James Corbett, GRTV, January 10, 2012 The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity made the unprecedented decision last month to call for the censorship of a pair of papers in scientific journals that describe how to make a novel, human transmissible form of bird flu that could kill unprecedented numbers of people. The studies, conducted by two independent teams of researchers in the Netherlands, the US and Japan (sic), concluded that it was possible to mutate ordinary H5N1 avian flu virus into an aerosol-transmissible form that could spread easily and rapidly through the air. ... Mass

Controversial Biolab Set To Open

Boston City Officals Tour BU Lab. WCVB, January 10, 2012 Boston - It's been controversial from the get go. Ever since Boston University revealed plans to do research on the world's deadliest diseases, neighbors of the South End facility have had safety concerns. Now years after debate, it is closer to opening. Pending water and sewer permits, the level 2 lab, which would do research on less hazardous materials, could open in the next two months. ... Controversial

Inside BU’s maximum-security 'biolab' - video

Peter Howe, NECN, January 10, 2012 Boston - Is the middle of Boston the right place for a maximum-security laboratory where researchers would handle and research some of the world’s deadliest bacteria and microbes? Boston University’s been arguing for years that its medical center campus can be, and three-and-a-half years after completing construction of the new facility on Albany Street, as BU continues to seek federal regulatory and court approvals to open the facility, it invited neighbors and media in for a tour Tuesday. ... Inside

BU opens Biolab doors for invite-only tour

Julie M. Donnelly, Boston Business Journal, January 10, 2012

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino led a tour Tuesday of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL), better known as the Boston University biolab. The tour was designed to highlight both the safety features and the prospective economic impact of the facility, which the city estimates at $98 million per year. NEIDL, one of only two (sic) biosafety level-4 labs in the country, has largely lain dormant since its completion in 2008, due to legal and regulatory hold-ups. Concerns stem from the fact that part of the facility would be used to study exotic, fatal infections including the Ebola virus.

The lab is located at 620 Albany Street in Boston's South End.

Mayor Menino to lead tour of controversial BU biolab in South End

Kay Lazar, Boston Globe, January 9, 2012 Mayor Thomas M. Menino will lead a tour of the Boston University biolab tomorrow, accompanied by two dozen neighborhood and civic leaders, in advance of what’s expected to be the federal government’s final decision on whether to allow researchers to study some of the the world’s deadliest germs at the controversial South End site. Menino, a supporter of the project, said the tour will allow leaders to gain a better understanding of the research that is proposed for the lab, which sits largely empty three years after construction was completed. ... Mayor

An Engineered Doomsday

New York Times Editorial, January 8, 2012 Scientists have long worried that an influenza virus that has ravaged poultry and wild birds in Asia might evolve to pose a threat to humans. Now scientists financed by the National Institutes of Health have shown in a laboratory how that could happen. In the process they created a virus that could kill tens or hundreds of millions of people if it escaped confinement or was stolen by terrorists. We nearly always champion unfettered scientific research and open publication of the results. In this case it looks like the research should never have been undertaken because the potential harm is so catastrophic ... An

China attempts to allay fears of bird flu epidemic

Clifford Coonan, Irish Times, January 4, 2012 Chinese health authorities have tried to calm anxieties about a bird flu epidemic after a 39-year-old bus driver in Shenzhen in the south of the country died of complications from the H5N1 virus on Saturday. The man’s death, surnamed Chen, was China’s first reported human case of the deadly disease in 18 months. After genetic analysis, health officials said the strain contracted by Mr Chen cannot spread from person to person. “It is still not transmissible between people,” the Shenzhen Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said. ... China

Health officials confirm first bird flu death since 2010

Cynthia Hodges, Chicago Homeland Security Examiner, January 1, 2012 Health officials in China confirm that a 39-year-old bus driver from Shenzen, China died of the H5N1 (aka bird flu) virus on Saturday. It is the country’s first reported case of the deadly disease in humans in 18 months. The victim, a man referred to only as Chen, lived in the city of Shenzen which borders Hong Kong, where thousands of birds were slaughtered after two birds tested positive for the virus last week. Chen's death was announced one week after being admitted to hospital with pneumonia on Christmas Day. ... Health

Biolab will become operational in 2012

Kate Vander Wiede, South End News, December 29, 2011 Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs issues green light for low level research, risk assessment nears completion. The end of 2011 saw several victories for the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL, or the Biolab). In early December, the lab was given the go-ahead to start low-level research. Just a few weeks later, the National Research Council gave the positive review yet of a risk assessment being overseen by the National Institute of Health’s Blue Ribbon Panel. ... Biolab

Debate Persists on Deadly Flu Made Airborne

Denise Grady & Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times, December 27, 2011 The young scientist, normally calm and measured, seemed edgy when he stopped by his boss’s office. “You are not going to believe this one,” he told Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. “I think we have an airborne H5N1 virus.” The news, delivered one afternoon last July, was chilling. It meant that Dr. Fouchier’s research group had taken one of the most dangerous flu viruses ever known and made it even more dangerous - by tweaking it genetically to make it more contagious. ... Debate

BU Biolab Wants to Risk Public’s Health Without Sufficient State Review

Jenny Rushlow, Conservation Law Foundation, December 21, 2011 There’s a common saying that if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. Leaders of Boston University’s proposed National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) – known as the BU Biolab – in the densely populated urban environmental justice community of Roxbury/South End, have asked the state to waive required review of their plans to build a lab involving rare and lethal pathogens even though their prior risk assessments were found inadequate multiple times. In other words, they want to build a risk-laden facility without accountability to the public. ... BU

Seeing Terror Risk, US Asks Journals to Cut Flu Study Facts

Denise Grady & William J. Broad, New York Times, December 21, 2011 For the first time ever, a government advisory board is asking scientific journals not to publish details of certain biomedical experiments, for fear that the information could be used by terrorists to create deadly viruses and touch off epidemics. In the experiments, conducted in the United States and the Netherlands, scientists created a highly transmissible form of a deadly flu virus that does not normally spread from person to person. ... Seeing

Bird flu bioterror risk seen increased by censorship

Kate Kelland, Reuters, December 21, 2011 London - Any number of laboratories worldwide could engineer bird flu viruses into bioterror weapons capable of causing a human pandemic, and US government efforts to censor research might only increase the risk that rogue elements may give it a try. Experts say an unprecedented request by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) for two leading scientific journals to withold details of research into H5N1 bird flu is unlikely to block anyone already intent on evil. Yet ironically, the fact that the potential for H5N1 to be deliberately engineered into a highly pathogenic form has become headline news ... Bird

US call to suppress information about mutant man-made superflu is ‘censorship’

Richard Ingham & Annie Hautefeuille, Agence France-Presse, December 21, 2011 Paris - Leading virologists warned of censorship after a US bioterror watchdog asked scientific journals to withhold details of lab work that created a mutant strain of killer flu. The controversy erupted on Tuesday when the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) urged the world’s two top journals to exclude key details before publishing the research papers. In what is believed to be the first time it has made the recommendation, the government monitor cited an “extremely serious global health threat.” ... US

North Korea and H5N1– a sense of proportion

Gwynne Dyer, Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2011 The H5N1 virus caused global panic because it killed about 60 percent of the people it infected. Western intelligence agencies have been warning for years about the terrible consequences that would ensue if Iran were to get nuclear weapons. Better bomb the place before they do. But North Korea already has nuclear weapons, and now they are falling into the hands of a young man whose main qualification for office is that he is less weird than his half-brother, who was caught trying to sneak into Japan on a false passport to visit Disneyland Tokyo. ... North

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