Recently Published Scientific Paper Raises Questions, Provides Warning Regarding Privately Funded Dual-Use Research

Washington Post: An experiment risks giving terrorists the recipe for smallpox — and sends a warning
Editorial Board

“A scientific paper published on Jan. 19 described a worrisome experiment. Researchers in Canada assembled bits of DNA and resurrected in the laboratory a cousin of the virus that caused smallpox, a deadly scourge eradicated in 1980. The authors said their experiments might lead to improved vaccines, but critics have correctly questioned whether the study could give terrorists or rogue states a recipe to reconstitute the smallpox virus, known as variola. … The Canadian researchers did not violate regulations, but their work fell into a sort of gray area where regulations hardly reach. … [A] study such as this comes as a jolt. It was not necessary. … The restrictions that now cover dual-use research funded by U.S. government — which include an independent review process, and a weighing of the risks and benefits, as well as the ethics — should be expanded to private-sector research. The WHO should be given a stronger oversight role, too…” (2/3).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.