Fauci debates merits of H5N1 research

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently discussed the benefits and risks of allowing scientific research into the deadly bird flu.

Fauci spoke after researchers, federal health officials and other experts concluded a two-day conference on whether or not to end a year-long moratorium on the research, Ross and Burbank Radio reports.

"There's no clean answer to that (benefit vs. risk)," Fauci said, according to Ross and Burbank Radio. "It needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis. But you have to have some fundamental principles that you go by."

Fauci said that researchers can create strains of the disease that will allow them to identify and potentially treat future influenza outbreaks.

"There's a great deal of concern of public health officials, particularly in that area of the world, that this virus the way that other virus's often do, is going to ultimately by mutations, assume the capability of transmitting more efficiently in humans," Fauci said, according to Ross and Burbank Radio.

Fauci questioned if the knowledge gained from the research is worth it and if the laboratory-created strains would happen in nature anyway, necessitating the research. Fauci said that if research is renewed it will be tightly controlled and federal funding will have strict requirements.

Some security experts expressed concern that public influenza research will provide a recipe for a potential biological weapon. Fauci insisted that approved research would address such concerns, Ross and Burbank Radio reports.