Risk assessment: Laboratory-created A(H5N1) viruses transmissible between ferrets
The results of two, as yet unpublished, investigations of laboratory-induced genetic changes in avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses have been reported to have found that a surprisingly few number of changes make the viruses transmissible between ferrets, the most commonly used model for the way influenza behaves in humans. The possibility that this could have resulted in the development in laboratories of A(H5N1) influenza viruses transmissible between humans has caused concern for public safety and generated unusually high levels of debate in the scientific community. This report summarises and explains the complex public health and scientific issues around these developments including the positive and negative aspects of some of the responses that have been proposed internationally.
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