U.S. Government Must Be Transparent, Involve Public Discussion When Approving Potentially Risky Disease Research, Opinion Piece Says
Washington Post: The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security and professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
“In 2014, U.S. officials imposed a moratorium on experiments to enhance some of the world’s most lethal viruses by making them transmissible by air, responding to widespread concerns that a lab accident could spark a global pandemic. … Apparently, the government has decided the research should now move ahead. … Amazingly, despite the potential public-health consequences of such work, neither the approval nor the deliberations or judgments that supported it were announced publicly. … This lack of transparency is unacceptable. Making decisions to approve potentially dangerous research in secret betrays the government’s responsibility to inform and involve the public when approving endeavors, whether scientific or otherwise, that could put health and lives at risk. … We need public discussion and debate about the risks and benefits of these kinds of experiments. And because viruses do not respect borders, the conversation must move beyond the national level, to coordinate the regulation of dangerous science internationally. At stake here is the credibility of science, which depends on public support to continue. Science is a powerful driver of human health, well-being, and prosperity, and nearly all of it can be done without putting populations at risk. If governments want to fund exceptionally risky science, they should do so openly and in a way that promotes public awareness and engagement” (2/27).