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Oversight Required on Influenza Research

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Recent research on the H5N1 influenza virus has raised serious questions about the dangers of certain types of experiments involving specific pathogens. In response, U.S. officials have called for the drafting of global guidelines for conducting and disseminating such research. The outlines of a global oversight system are apparent and could build on existing practices of institutional and peer review. The World Health Organization has a vital role to play in developing and operating such a system, which would inevitably require significant innovation in the management of scientific information. A broad public discussion, one that involves the scientific establishment, is necessary to ensure that any oversight provides continued support for public health initiatives, while ensuring global security

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