NIH, NIAID directors herald upcoming end to H5N1 experiment moratorium

The directors of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently issued a joint statement in support of resuming gain-of-function experiments on highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1.

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci lauded the beginning of an international dialogue about the future direction of H5N1 research and said that they support the resumption of U.S.-funded research under a framework provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Collins and Fauci said that the H5N1 research community supports resuming research in countries that have had the opportunity to review their policies and parameters for funding and conducting such studies.

The directors said that they anticipate HHS will complete its final framework regarding funding decisions sometime in the next several weeks. In the meantime, U.S.-funded researchers have agreed to wait before continuing gain-of-function experiments on H5N1.

"Understanding how influenza viruses become human pandemic threats is vitally important to global health preparedness," Collins and Fauci said. "We applaud the international H5N1 influenza research community for the spirit in which they instituted this extended 'pause' on their work, which has provided time for thoughtful consideration of its implications."

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