Avian influenza studies should be published, WHO experts says

A group of scientific experts organized by the World Health Organization recently concluded that two controversial studies on avian influenza should be published in full after proponents make a concerted to explain their importance to the public.

The WHO determined that a broader discussion needs to be held to determine what biosecurity and biosafety conditions are appropriate for future studies that may utilize the viruses created in the studies, according to CTV.ca.

There was no estimate given for how long it might be before the two tasks are completed, but the chairman of the WHO meeting said the groundwork for publication could be laid within the next several months.

One of the contested paper's authors, Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, said that he does not think publication will be a swift process.

"I do not think that this is going to be rushed right now. We've been holding this up for four or five months. And so rushing it now would not be a smart thing to do," Fouchier, an influenza virologist said, CTV.ca reports.

Fouchier appeared relieved to have the support of his peers and many of the others who attended the meeting, but he acknowledged the debate is far from over.

The U.S. government biosafety group that raised its concerns about the two independent studies has not withdrawn its recommendation that the papers be redacted and key sections withheld.