High Tension Science

For more than a year, China has withheld samples of the H7N9 avian flu virus from the US, despite a WHO agreement to exchange specimens, the The New York Times reports. The deadly strain emerged in China in 2013 and has killed 40% of its victims. Officials worry it could spark the next global pandemic, and seasonal vaccines stand little chance against the virus. 

“Countries don’t own their viral samples any more than they own the birds in their skies,” said Andrew C. Weber, a biodefense expert under Obama.
As communication about the virus has deteriorated, the NIH is also addressing fears that US-funded research is being harvested by foreign governments, Science reports. Last week, it warned 10,000 research institutions against “unacceptable breaches of trust and confidentiality.” The NIH is investigating a half dozen cases in which researchers with federal grants may have breached reporting rules.

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