WHO to hold meeting on dual use research

The WHO plans to hold a meeting in the late fall to discuss dual use research issues that surfaced following the announcement of lab-modified H5N1 viruses with increased transmissibility.

"We hope to hold a second meeting to discuss the broader concerns related to potential dual [use] research in the late fall, if resources are available," Keiji Fukuda,the WHO's assistant director-general for health security and environment, said, according to CIDRAP News.

The WHO also released a statement about its activities related to the H5N1 controversy this week. It originally held a meeting in Geneva in February on the research, with the majority of its participants supporting publishing the studies.

"WHO is planning an international consultation on broader issues highlighted by the debate surrounding the two H5N1 research studies," the agency said, CIDRAP News reports. "A discussion engaging multiple stakeholders, including the scientific, public health and security communities, government agencies, international agencies, and the public is envisaged."

In addition to its meetings in February, the WHO launched a "comprehensive communications plan focusing on the two H5N1-affected countries and other member states," it said in a statement.

The plan focuses on improving understanding of H5N1 researching, ensuring that member countries have information to respond to public anxiety about biosafety and biosecurity issues related to lab-modified viruses, and supporting the continuation of responsible research with appropriate safeguards.