US bio-terror chief says: ‘No way of stopping leak of deadly new flu’

Posted on February 8, 2012

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The bioterrorism expert responsible for censoring scientific research which could lead to the creation of a devastating pandemic has admitted the information “is going to get out” eventually.

Professor Paul Keim, chairman of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, controversially recommended that researchers be stopped from publishing the precise mutations needed to transform the H5N1 strain of birdflu virus into a human-transmissible version.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, he argued it had been necessary to limit the release of the scientific details because of fears that terrorists may use the information to create their own H5N1 virus that could be spread easily between people.

Professor Keim said that it was necessary to slow down the release of scientific information because it was clear that the world is not yet prepared for a strain of highly lethal H5N1 influenza that can be transmitted by coughs and sneezes.

“We recognised that, in the long term certainly, the information is going to get out, and maybe even in the mid term. But if we can restrict it in the short term and motivate governments to start getting busy in terms of building  up the flu-defence infrastructure, then we’ve succeeded at a certain level,” he said.

Independent

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