U.S. lifts ban on research into dangerous viruses

U.S. lifts ban on research into dangerous viruses

The U.S. government has rescinded a ban on funding controversial research into deadly viruses in terms of streamlining their ability to. The ban was imposed in 2014 out of concern for the safety of ongoing research.

Yesterday, the National Institutes of Heath (NIH), the government agency with funds for biomedical research, announced that scientists can again use federal funds to conduct research on deadly pathogens such as the SARS virus and anthrax bacteria. In the same announcement, the institution reported róAlso, that applications for grants for scientistsców will be subjected to closer scrutiny than in the past.

A moratorium on research into enhancing the capabilities of dangerous pathogensów was introduced in October 2014 after a series of safety violations and mistakes, to which theówhich occurred in state laboratories. Now funds will be available again.

Francis S. Collins, NIH director, said such research could help usóc identify, understand and develop better strategies and more effective countermeasures, against fast-growing pathogens that pose a threat to public health. This is true, of course, but not everyone in the scientific community welcomes the resumption of these controversial experimentsów.

Someóers say the renewal of funding carries the risk of even accidentally getting outside the lab, e.g. of a tweaked SARS virus capable of spreading rapidly and uncontrollably in human populations, potentially threatening a pandemic. No longer mówishing for such a modified pathogen to get into the wrong hands.

NIH’s explanation is that it has developed new grant rules. They are to involve prior consideration of the scientific merits and potential benefits of the proposed research by a panel of expertsów of róof different fields. Consideration is to be given to róalso the dangers of such work. The process of awarding the fund is to be multi-stage and each application is to be evaluated by scientistsów not applying for grants. Scientists applying for the money will also have to demonstrate that they have the ability to conduct pathogen research under safe conditions.

Critics say that no matter how rigorously the new policy is designed, the weakest link in all of this – human error – remains unchanged. – Such experiments could yield more potential harmód than potential benefits – said molecular biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University.

But there are other voices as well. – Man is the best tool in the spread of virusesów,” said epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University, arguing that the benefits outweigh the risks – especially since natural viruses always evolve on their own anyway.

– There has been increased scrutiny of laboratoryów working in the area, which could lead to an even stronger safety culture. I fear, however, that the moratorium may have opóźnić necessary research – explained Samuel Stanley – chairman of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. – Nature is the best bioterrorist and we need to do everything we can to stay one step ahead – added.

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