US board says censuring research on avian flu was necessary to prevent a potential catastrophe

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 02 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e840
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

A US government panel has defended its advice to two leading scientific journals to censure publication of methods used in research of human to human transmission of the H5N1 avian influenza virus as justified to protect public health. In the wrong hands the information could lead to the development of a virus for harmful purposes leading to “an epidemic of significant proportions,” the board says.

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity reviewed research papers on H5N1 transmissibility before publication in the journals Science and Nature. In December it recommended the journals withhold the methodological and other details (BMJ 2011;343:d8333, doi:10.1136/bmj.d8333) igniting a firestorm of …

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