Biosecurity experts asked to review recommendation to not publish H5N1 studies

A panel of U.S. biosecurity experts has been asked to review its previous recommendation that the results of two controversial bird flu studies should not be fully published.

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity will receive revised versions of the studies' manuscripts. One of the revised manuscripts will explain that the H5N1 virus made in a Dutch lab was not as lethal as has previously been suggested, CTV News reports.

The panel was asked to review the recommendation during a biosecurity conference on Wednesday. During the conference, Ron Fouchier, the leader of the Dutch study, told the conference that the virus created in his lab spread easily among ferrets in adjacent cages, but none of the ferrets infected that way died. Only ferrets directly infected with high doses were killed by the lab-created virus.

The results had not been made public and contradicted information that circulated about Fouchier's study since the recommendation against full publication in November. In the other study, Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that the hybrid virus his lab produced could spread easily among ferrets but was not fatal, according to CTV News.

The group recommended that the U.S. government request that two leading journals not publish the full studies, alleging that they were recipes for making transmissible H5N1 viruses. The researchers and the journals reluctantly agreed as long as a system be set up to share the information that was withheld with other scientists and public health officials. The system has yet to be devised.