"How Hard Would It Be for Avian Flu to Spread?"

"Recent reports that two teams of scientists had genetically altered a deadly flu virus to make it more contagious have provoked fear, even outrage, in some quarters."

"Biosecurity advisers to the American government, which paid for the research, have urged that full details not be published for fear that terrorists could make use of them. The World Health Organization warned Friday that while such studies were important, they could have deadly consequences.

Some scientists argue that the research should not even have been done, since the modified virus could slip out of a lab and set off a lethal epidemic. Others contend that such experiments are essential to learning what naturally occurring changes in flu viruses are the most dangerous. The results could help inform efforts to predict epidemics, they say, and to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines."

Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Denise Grady report for the New York Times January 2, 2012.

Source: NY Times, 01/04/2012