‘Gain of function’ research and the influenza industry



In 2012 it came to light that the US National Institutes of Health is funding research into making bird flu (H5N1) more transmissible (i.e. ‘gain of function’ research), ostensibly to pre-empt Nature and facilitate production of vaccines…

I have made submissions opposing lab-engineering of potentially lethal pathogens, and also questioning fear-mongering in the influenza industry i.e.:


An interesting article by Peter M Sandman titled “Science versus Spin: How Ron Fouchier and Other Scientists Miscommunicated about the Bioengineered Bird Flu Controversy” provides a very useful summary of the ‘lethal flu virus’ debacle.  Sandman concludes: I find it outrageous – though not really that surprising – that the flu science guild has united in defense of the reputation of one of its own.  This protective response may well have been augmented by the fact that Fouchier had become the poster child for unfettered scientific publication.  Scientists who wanted to advocate on behalf of publishing Fouchier’s paper would have found it awkward to criticize discrepancies in how he had described the work.  Scapegoating the media for misreporting and the public for misunderstanding is an easy cheap shot.  Several virologists (and two NSABB members) have told me privately that they and many of their peers are outraged at Fouchier.  But unlike the freely expressed outrage of scientists at the threat of publication censorship, the outrage of scientists at Fouchier’s miscommunications has been almost entirely suppressed.”