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Biotech Science

Deadly H5N1 Flu Studies To Stay Secret... For Now 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-birds-are-not-trustworthy dept.
Edsj writes "A spokesman for the World Health Organization announced that an agreement had been reached, after a debate, to keep details secret of the controversial work about the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus until deeper risk analyses have been carried out. The scientists who made the study, led by Ron Fouchier, still want to release the full paper at some future date for public viewing, but for the time being, the NSABB got what it wanted." The moratorium will be extended "probably for several months."
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Deadly H5N1 Flu Studies To Stay Secret... For Now

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  • Wikipedia says (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:22PM (#39080045)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza_A_virus_subtype_H5N1

    On October 10, 2011 the WHO announced a total of 566 human cases which resulted in the deaths of 332 people since 2003

    So it kills about 58% of the people it infects

    • Re:Wikipedia says (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hadlock (143607) on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:40PM (#39080219) Homepage Journal

      So which weapon has a higher long term mortality rate to the innocent? Land mines or biological warfare? Iran's research in nuclear weapons seems so passe at this point. As we approach 10 billion people on this blue marble, the chances that we'll cull our numbers by 20% or more using some novel new method seems to race towards 1 at a faster and faster rate.

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        As we approach 10 billion people on this blue marble, the chances that we'll cull our numbers by 20% or more using some novel new method seems to race towards 1 at a faster and faster rate.

        +1

        its just a pity that only a very small percentage of us will have access to antidotes for these man-made genocide weapons

        unfortunately the only way to stop the madness is for everyone to stop spending all together, cutting off the lifeblood of the corporate oligarchy, and the chance of that ever happening is zero.

        • Re:Wikipedia says (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:34PM (#39081331)

          Last I checked, there ISNT an "antidote" to the flu.

          • by crutchy (1949900)
            lol... then you obviously aren't meant to benefit from it

            otoh, none of us common folk know what form these weapons will come in. it might be made to appear like a common cold except that you eventually drop dead from it after spreading it around (after all, many people still go to work with a cold), or it could be some disastrous infliction like the T-virus (doubt it though)
            • The mystery of the human genome was sort of like a protective lock that prevented people from engineering terrible plagues. Now that mystery is going away, with lots of well-meant good intentions to cure genetic diseases and so on. With that protective "code" widely understood, we had better be sure to learn how to be nicer to each other, and use that knowledge to build a better society rather than tear everything down.

              Or, in other words:
              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042546/quotes [imdb.com]
              "Elwood P. Dowd: Years ago,

              • by crutchy (1949900)
                nice guys finish last
                money talks and bullshit walks
                golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules
                etc.

                unfortunately we have human nature to contend with, and that is the Achilles heel of our very existence... humanity is literally its own worst enemy. just as there will be those who do good, there will be those that take advantage. the seven sins have more authority over humankind than the ten commandments will ever have.

                regarding energy of the future, i think permanent magnetism may hold the k
        • by jd (1658)

          It is not the only solution, although it would be a very effective one if you could achieve it.

          An alternative is to simply out-compete. In everything. Man--made islands are all very cute, but you're not going to build the next MIT on one, let alone the next Boeing, the next NASA, the next Volvo and the next farming community you're going to need (because if you want to out-compete in everything, you have got to DO everything).

          The benefit in out-competing is that isolating all the corporations and military e

          • by crutchy (1949900)
            its funny you should mention that, because i believe we are soon to be (or already are) in the sort of global economic climate where an emerging mass-marketing not-for-profit (as in no shareholders at all - not even owned by employees) could leverage consumer mentality by really make the competing corporations look bad on TV a lot, to the point where they could gradually buy out their competitors.

            the problem is a number of philanthropic idealists need to get together, develop a business plan, get loans a
          • Reasonable speculation on what sentient AI or molecular manufacturing using nanotechnology suggests that this technology would make creating an isolated kingdom practical. Today, every sophisticated product depends on supply chains stretching thousands of miles, but nanotech printing machines would be capable of making any product at all, given the blueprints, and the needed time, energy, and raw elements.

            Sentient AIs would be capable of the same feats that currently takes armies of engineers and workers t

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          It won't help and here's why: You have people packed like rats in the megacities like LA and NYC which will be a breeding ground for any new nasty. With the rate of travel if a new nasty does get loose which if anything we have seen when you have lots of poor (like now) with little access to medicine and healthcare (again like now) and who don't see a doctor until they are practically dead (ditto) you have a perfect storm for some new nasty. And finally you have the antibiotics being ruined by big ranching

    • by izomiac (815208)
      Yes, and the fear is that it isn't all that different from H1N1, which likes to cause pandemics. The 1918 flu was a H1N1 subtype, and "only" had 10% - 20% mortality. Nowadays, not only are population densities higher, we're also more interconnected, so we probably wouldn't get away with "just" 3% of the world's population infected like in 1918.
      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        My amateur understanding of it is that the particularly deadly strains burn themselves out fairly quick, because a dead person doesn't spread disease like an ambulatory one. Because we have a much better understanding of these things today(transmission, sanitation, incubation, etc), a pandemic in a modern society will be more difficult for a virus to attain and easier to avoid the scorch the earth policy necessary to eradicate it. Granted, small deadly outbreaks can't be stopped, but it would be less like
        • Re:Wikipedia says (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PCM2 (4486) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:49PM (#39081439) Homepage

          My amateur understanding of it is that the particularly deadly strains burn themselves out fairly quick, because a dead person doesn't spread disease like an ambulatory one. Because we have a much better understanding of these things today(transmission, sanitation, incubation, etc), a pandemic in a modern society will be more difficult for a virus to attain and easier to avoid the scorch the earth policy necessary to eradicate it. Granted, small deadly outbreaks can't be stopped, but it would be less likely for it to spread like we've seen before before it burns itself out.

          I don't know. Most Americans I've met have serious qualms about calling in sick to work for a cold or flu -- whether it's because they don't want to be perceived as whiners, or they have too much work on their plate, or they get so little vacation that they don't want to lose days that they could otherwise use for much-needed rest. A flu virus could very easily become a pandemic even if it makes you sicken and die in a single day, so long as it makes you walk around with a cough and the sniffles for a few days before that.

          Also, in general the idea that diseases evolve to be less virulent over time is a myth. Think about rabies; if you catch full blown rabies (you don't get your shots in time), you're going to die. Mortality for rabies in humans approaches 100 percent. Once you develop symptoms, you'll be dead in a week. So is rabies "pricing itself out of the market"? No. It has existed for all of human history. You don't hear about cases of rabies in major human cities very often, but outside the developed areas, when a human or an animal gets rabies, it's the same rabies it has always been, and it's fatal. And there are many other diseases that have very dire, potentially lethal symptoms in humans. The idea that a living human must keep passing a pathogen to other living humans for it to survive in the long run is, unfortunately, too naïve and simplistic a model of disease.

          • by orzetto (545509)

            Also, in general the idea that diseases evolve to be less virulent over time is a myth. Think about rabies; if you catch full blown rabies (you don't get your shots in time), you're going to die. Mortality for rabies in humans approaches 100 percent. Once you develop symptoms, you'll be dead in a week. So is rabies "pricing itself out of the market"? No.

            That's because evolution works by selecting traits that are present in the original gene pool. If they are not there, they cannot be selected. A mutation of

            • by Anonymous Coward

              "That's because evolution works by selecting traits that are present in the original gene pool."

              That's how natural selection works not evolution. Evolution combines the pressures of natural selection with the mutation of new genes that weren't in the original gene pool. Otherwise we would have never evolved into complex organisms with genes as they weren't present in ancient primordial ooze.

            • by PCM2 (4486)

              They evolve towards the forms that allow the greatest diffusion, which in modern society means the forms that do not put the patient in a bed at home or in a hospital ward.

              No. You've missed the point completely.

              Rabies exists largely because mammals catch it. Not just humans; mammals. Dogs and raccoons that get rabies become aggressive and tend to bite other animals, passing the rabies. Humans don't. Humans with rabies just get sick and die. Four days after they come down with rabies symptoms, they're completely immobilized and praying for their god.

              From this, you could conclude that rabies doesn't really want to be in people; it's more beneficial for rabies to infect dogs and

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So it kills about 58% of the people it infects

      Nope. It kills 58% of people who are detected to have been infected. There might be hundreds more people who get better quickly and never seek medical attention.

      • Re:Wikipedia says (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Friday February 17, 2012 @09:01PM (#39081529) Homepage

        Nope. It kills 58% of people who are detected to have been infected. There might be hundreds more people who get better quickly and never seek medical attention.

        Why is that relevant?

        People who don't sicken don't need medical attention. I think that's obvious.

        Of those people who sicken from the flu, the ones who are infected with H5N1 die much more often than the people who sicken from other strains.

        Suppose they came out with statistics showing that most people who have handguns fired at them don't get hit by the bullet, and of those that do get hit by the bullet, not many die. However, of those people who do get hit by the bullet, hollow-tip bullets cause much more severe injuries than regular ones. Would your conclusion be, "Who cares, I'm Superman"?

        • by Lennie (16154)

          But it might be possible people who don't get sick can still infect others.

    • by PRMan (959735)

      "Each year, the flu is reported to be responsible for almost 36,000 deaths" http://pediatrics.about.com/od/kidsandtheflu/a/0607_flu_update.htm [about.com]

      So, H5N1 was responsible for 1% of deaths... Why are we so scared of this flu again?

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        So, H5N1 was responsible for 1% of deaths... Why are we so scared of this flu again?

        Because, like the GP says, if you catch it you have a worse than 1 in 2 chance of survival. The point is that not many people catch it ... yet. But what the recent research showed is that it would not take a tremendous amount of mutation for a form of the disease to arise that could spread much more easily.

        If a guy comes along and says, "Your building isn't as safe as you think it is, there aren't enough fire exits," do you laugh and say, "You're stupid! Nobody has ever died in a fire in this building."

        • Actually, I've heard people use almost that exact reasoning. "Why do I need to have an accessible fire exit? Disabled people don't come in here, and if they do the employees will just carry them out" and the like. Also, "Yes, I know the building doesn't have anchors or clips keeping pieces together, but it's survived since 1930. Why should I add them just because I'm putting an HVAC system on the roof?
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Lethality. 50% lethality + uncontrolled spread = societal collapse.

        If you really hate the current world order, this may be your best bet to change it.

        • by jd (1658)

          50% lethality + uncontrolled spread = the original version of Survivors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr.LightFoot (2566795)
        If you read the paper or summary of the paper, it is talking about mutation and implicit manipulation of the virus to 'weaponize' the flu. The steps to mutate the virus was extremely simplistic and can be spread quickly around the globe. An example of how it would work would be similar to the movie Contagion. If you were in Asia during SARS or Africa during Ebola, you would see how fast society/community collapsed. Panic ensures, rich ppl got cures/protection while poor got guns. By delaying the publicati
        • by PCM2 (4486)

          BTW, if you look at the Stats, the reason it didn't spread wide, it happened in China and other Asian countries that has an authoritarian government.

          Actually, if you're still talking about SARS, the reason it didn't spread wide is because it actually wasn't very infectious.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, it kills 58% of the people who end up in the hospital because they caught it.
      Probably at least hundreds of thousands of people have caught it, but they did not go to the hospital.
      The larger number is measured by looking for people who have antibodies to this flu.
      The fatality rate is non-zero, but there is no evidence that this flu is particularly lethal in people.
      This story is fear-mongering by the bio-defense people. Check out www.twiv.tv for the real story.
      They have recent coverage at http://www.twiv.

    • How many cases was there? Oh wait we don't know because a lot of people who get the flu don't go to the doctor and don't get tested. Hell in NZ during the swine flu "epidemic" *anyone* reporting flu symptoms, was counted as a swine flu case... Why? Because we don't need to test, its all swine flu this year. Same problem with bird flu, if you only get data on the ones that end up seriously ill or dead, you don't get an accurate picture at all.
  • Since it works so well, right?

    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:07PM (#39080473)
      All security is through obscurity. If somebody knows your key, or your hiding spot, or what time you have to put down your shotgun to take a crap, you're through. All cryptography does is let you protect a large secret with a smaller one.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        All security is through obscurity. If somebody knows your key, or your hiding spot, or what time you have to put down your shotgun to take a crap, you're through. All cryptography does is let you protect a large secret with a smaller one.

        I see your point, but you're short circuiting a little bit of common sense to make it.

        Someone would have to "know" your key pretty damn well -- and some highly specialized skills besides -- to make a copy of it without having access to the original. And they'd need to be downright brilliant to use their copy if the lock is too far away for them to reach. Lack of physical access is not really "obscurity," in the sense that people mean when they quote that phrase.

        And when you need to put your shotgun down to

      • All security is through obscurity. If somebody knows your key, or your hiding spot, or what time you have to put down your shotgun to take a crap, you're through. All cryptography does is let you protect a large secret with a smaller one.

        What you say is true, but it doesn't really address security through obscurity. Yes, all information security is carried out through some form of literal obscurity, but the phrase "security through obscurity" is a piece of jargon that involves keeping the security system hidden. In other words, some security engineer has Idea A that can be used to protect Secret B, but only if A remains secret as well. That's bad.

        Avoiding security through obscurity means drawing a clear box around the information you intend

        • by timeOday (582209)

          Avoiding security through obscurity means drawing a clear box around the information you intend to obscure-that is, the key-and saying with confidence, "Nothing other than this needs to remain secret."

          I agree, that is the nut of it right there.

          I also agree that as properly interpreted it doesn't apply to this story; that is, it only applies if misinterpreted such that it is nonsensical.

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        If somebody knows your key, or your hiding spot, or what time you have to put down your shotgun to take a crap, you're through

        true, but security through obscurity is about obscurity that isn't secure (such as access to a system from an unknown URL - the URL may be unknown, but it isn't secure).

        if somebody knows a cryptography key to the point where they gain useful information with it, there is a good chance that somebody was the guy who was given that key and authorized to use it in the first place.

        its easy to say "if someone has the key they can get in", but the whole point of having a key is that it's given only to those

    • The only way this would be "security through obscurity," in the sense that cryptography experts typically use that piece of jargon, is if they trying to be obscure about the means of hiding the flu data, in addition to hiding the flu data itself. Hiding the flu data is just plain old secrecy.

      Since we are talking about scientifically reproducible data, I guess you might be hinting at an analogy to the mathematics or source code behind a cryptographic system: it's foolish to assume that bad guys wouldn't be a

    • by pla (258480)
      Security through obscurity? Again? Since it works so well, right?

      Particularly in light of the fact that we already know the most important features of their method...

      Step 1) Pick your favorite in-the-wild strain of H5N1.

      Step 2) Pick an animal known to occasionally catch H5N1, which for the most part shares viral sensitivity with Humans. Such as a ferret or dog or pig.

      Step 3) Force-infect your first specimen with your H5N1 sample. It doesn't need to get really sick, just wait long enough for the
      • by afabbro (33948)

        Rinse wash repeat half a dozen times.

        THAT'S what I was doing wrong. I was doing lather-rinse-repeat, and it was supposed to be rinse-wash-repeat.

        Headed back downstairs to the lab...

  • Oh yeah? (Score:3, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:31PM (#39080133)

    Just wait until Anonymous (Achoo!) gets their hands on it (sniffle).

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:32PM (#39080139) Homepage Journal
    Government Organization Declares Self Sole Proprietor of Bio-Terrorism

    And as we all know, government officials never use such exclusivity of information for their own personal profit.

    Nothing to worry about here, Citizen, now move along...
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The WHO is a UN agency, not a governmental one.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858)

        The WHO is a UN agency, not a governmental one.

        I maintain that the UN is a government.

        • Or, in the deepest, darkest corner of their minds, they'd like to be.

          • Or, in the deepest, darkest corner of their minds, they'd like to be.

            Yea, but the only way they'd be able to pull it off is if they held the world hostage with some sort of, I dunno, supervirus that no one knew enough about to stop...

            Aw, shit.

    • Nuclear annihilation is often predicted as the potential end of mankind. I would put biowarfare right up there as just as likely to be the end of our species. It might even be the result of good intentions - eradicating hatred or racism or some other ugly human trait - that goes horribly wrong. I'm sure there's a sci-fi book out there which deals with this topic.
  • Every dictator left that cannot afford nuclear weapons will have a team looking into reproducing this work, even without the publication. I do have to say that most of the fault is with the scientists that went for an, at best, dubious research subject, doubtlessly because of some over-sized egos.

    • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:36PM (#39080757)

      Or perhaps they were looking for ways to prevent the global pandemic that has a pretty good potential of wiping out over half of humans on the planet? You know, like those who experimented on dozens of diseases that killed most people before they reached the age where they could procreate, eventually driving infectious disease mortality so far down, that most people don't understand the risks hiding in them?

      Just a suggestion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:37PM (#39080187)

    As was brought up couple weeks back in SciFri, the study abstract and rough process which has been talked publicly is enough for skilled laboratory to try same. Passing the virus just trough five ferret infections to get it spreading over air is so simple and little that it might happen anyway naturally over time without human intervention.

    All we can do and should do is start developing vaccines now and not wait until we would be too late. It takes about 6 months to develop and produce enough vaccine. Thinking that the lethality of H1N5 is about 50% compared to smallpox ~40% it's going to be enormous panic to get it done if any preparations were not done beforehand.

    • I obviously don't know what I'm talking about so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong... but I seriously doubt it would take that long.

      I'd guess that a lot of that "6 months" involves testing. In other words, if there is a very quickly spreading pandemic that kills over half the people it infects, we could probably say "Let's just pray that there aren't too horrible side effects for most people. Start mass producing the prototype!" Also, in such a case we could probably say "There is a risk of billions of

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:53PM (#39080969) Homepage

        I'd guess that a lot of that "6 months" involves testing. In other words, if there is a very quickly spreading pandemic that kills over half the people it infects, we could probably say "Let's just pray that there aren't too horrible side effects for most people. Start mass producing the prototype!"

        Heh. But you're talking about vaccinating just about everybody on the planet, in a pandemic. Is your proposal that we inject the entire population of the world with an untested medicine, in hopes of preventing disease? I somehow don't think that suggestion would travel far within the WHO.

        Also, there's no "prototype vaccine." They know how to make a vaccine that will be effective against any strain of flu, pretty much. They're all just variations of the same thing. The problem is that there are so many different variations (mutations) that they have to predict which one to manufacture in any given year, given the production capacity (labs/factories) available. And you can't just say "keep manufacturing H5N1 vaccine until we have enough for everybody," because it doesn't necessarily have a long shelf life. In fact, they're not really sure how long stockpiled doses would remain effective.

        What's more, manufacturing the flu vaccine isn't like manufacturing paint or chairs. The raw materials of the flu vaccine involve living, biological things. The virus itself is alive and must be cultured (before they kill it), and to do that, they grow it inside fertilized chicken eggs -- and as we know, nine chickens don't help you produce a fertilized egg any faster than one does (and to get more chickens, you need more fertilized eggs). So when you estimate how many doses of flu vaccine can be manufactured in a given period of time, it's a little bit like estimating how many cheeseburgers McDonald's can make in the same period of time ... while it is possible to "just make more," it's not necessarily as easy as it sounds.

        tl;dr -- When scientists talk about how many flu vaccine doses it would be possible to manufacture in a given period, they pretty much know what they're talking about.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      This might be the case with this particular strain but the decision is a precedent for any further similar research. At least in this case we know what we are dealing with, even if it gets out the methods of developing vaccine for avian flu are already researched which cuts the development time much shorter. And similar cases in the future may be handled more professionally now that a consensus is created.

    • Just in time for December 12, 2012!

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:42PM (#39080235)

    ... that it is relatively easy to produce this deadly strain.

    If it were hard, say like producing an atomic bomb (rather, producing the fuel for an atomic bomb)... then there would be no reason to keep it secret.

    • At least first stage atom bomb are easy. The secret is not in those, hirshima-clunky type of bomb (the canon type one, and the sphere type one), but in efficient usage of combustible and neutron reflector, to produce a second and even third stage, getting order of magnitude better nuclear bomb than hiroshima, in a smaller space and weight, making it deliverable in ICBM/missile/"suitcase". That involve a lot more engineering, neutron reflector and a choice of various materials. Now if you want only 10 kt, ha
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        That is false. One of the hardest aspects of making the bomb is producing enough fissile material in sufficient concentration.

        • Or Acquiring it in small enough quantities multiple times from mutiple places. Once you have enough, you melt it all down into a larger piece.

          Iran could do this to make a bomb. Combine stuff bought from N. Korea and combine it with what they themselves have already created. Anyways, you get the idea.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            I'm not 100% certain about uranium, but I'm absolutely certain that you in fact cannot "melt together" a plutonium bomb without some very cutting edge know-how and technology. One of the hard parts about handling weapons grade plutonium is keeping it actual plutonium and not becoming plutonium mixed with something else while cooling it through various allotrope phases.

      • Quick! Hide all the trucks!

        And the Grandmas!

  • Someone will try to recreate it anyway, now that people know it exists. Even without on how to do it.
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Friday February 17, 2012 @06:49PM (#39080285) Journal

    I submitted this a few hours before this one. (That makes three for three recent submissions of mine that were in the /recent queue and just vanished!). I guess for this one they didn't like my alarmist tone. Anyway, these guys say the studies will stay secret but the New York Times link I provided says they will be releasing the full details (after a delay).

    Here is my submission:

    wisebabo writes
    "So they're going to release FULL details of how to make this? Time to whip up my bio-reactor!

    Ok, so this easily transmissible human to human virus (as predicted by ferret models) *only* has a lethality of 50% but that should be enough to collapse civilization. At least it'll help cut down on global warming.

    Still that doesn't compare with that (smallpox?) variant which had an almost 100% fatality rate. I remember the publication for that one was suppressed pretty fast. I guess they think this one isn't nearly as dangerous which i would agree with except for the fact that it is AIRBORNE TRANSMISSIBLE (it's based on the Flu!). Boy is sneezing going to be a real conversation killer!

    Seems like we've solved the Fermi Paradox; once a species has figured out to make or modify self-replicating nano bots (like viruses), they'll inevitably make one that will in one way or another wipe them out.

    Hey, let's see if we can get them to release this in time for 12/21/12!"

    Link to Original Source

    • I submitted this a few hours before this one. (That makes three for three recent submissions of mine that were in the /recent queue and just vanished!). I guess for this one they didn't like my alarmist tone.

      That, and the clearly subjective nature of your commentary.

      In this case, I agree with /. (assuming your submission really was removed, and for those reasons); I would prefer the summaries stay as neutral about a topic as possible, and let the reader make their own judgements. You know, News in the old-skool, not sensationalized sense.


      Telling us what happened is fine; save the editorializing for the comment section.

      • by wisebabo (638845)

        So submissions shoud be treated differently than comments? Never thought of that but that might explain why even when my submission was rejected, people seemed to enjoy the very same post as a comment. Here's an example:

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2677993&cid=39078095 [slashdot.org]

        • So submissions shoud be treated differently than comments?

          IMO, yea. The constant editorializing is why I avoid network news channels. If I wanted opinions I would read a forum thread, you know?

          Never thought of that but that might explain why even when my submission was rejected, people seemed to enjoy the very same post as a comment.

          I don't work for /., so I can only surmise what the official rationale is. But to address your point, commentary is expected to be subjective, so wording it to favor your opinion on the matter is par-for-the-course. It's only the summary I prefer remain objective, so as to allow the reader the opportunity to get the actual facts then decide how they feel about it.

          Again, not

        • Exactly. Submissions should state the fact and if possible, remain unbiased. Personal POVs should be voiced as a comment. It's perfectly fair game to submit and comment. Just don't do both during the submission process.

  • While I understand their reasons for doing this, it's not going to matter much. We've reached the point in technology where the answer to the Fermi Paradox will be paying us a visit. Technology has advanced far beyond our social evolution and will lead to a catastrophic event, either intentional or accidental, that will decimate or annihilate us. Looking at the big picture of human's existence on Earth, whatever time this might buy us won't matter much, so why bother.
  • These aren't the avian pathogens you're looking for.
  • We can't carry out risk analysis everytime research needs to be published, even if it is (wrongly, I believe, in the current context) perceived as dangerous.
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      We can't carry out risk analysis everytime research needs to be published, even if it is (wrongly, I believe, in the current context) perceived as dangerous.

      But it won't be every time. This is clearly a politicized issue on many levels:

      - It feeds into discussions of "the War on Terror"
      - It triggers people's fears about vaccines, modern medicine, and doctors
      - It strays into conservatives' beliefs about government funding of science
      - Because it's science, it fires up debates about universities, education, "ivory-tower academics," etc
      - The UN is involved, and some people think the UN shouldn't exist (and therefore either the WHO has no right to object, or the rese

  • 58% figure is bogus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by estitabarnak (654060) on Friday February 17, 2012 @09:10PM (#39081605)

    The 58% figure is not the number of people who were exposed to the virus and died. It is not the number of people who have been exposed and successfully infected and died.

    The 58% figure is the number of people who were SO sick that it warranted going to the hospital, and then died.

    Serological surveys have shown that in the populations where H5N1 has been historically present there are an extensive number of people who have been infected, successfully mounted an immune response, and survived. And even that says nothing about the people who were exposed and did not get sick.

    The 50-60% figure has been getting a ton of coverage in the press, and is total bullshit. As a reason to censor scientific research, it is total bullshit.

    • by Rutulian (171771)

      Yes, that is true. However, assuming all flu epidemiological data suffers from the same systematic error, the H5N1 strain still has a much higher mortality rate than the other strains--ie: 58% may really be 35%, but then the 20% for H1N1 is actually 12%, assuming the same sampling error. So H5N1 is still a dangerous strain to take very seriously.

  • So when is someone going to acquire a copy and leak it to Wikileaks or similar? Once it's out it's out, and this now-months-long saga of trying to justify censorship will become moot.

  • Nope, this one's done. There's nothing so permanent as a temporary restriction. The moratorium will be extended indefinitely (or as long as the copyright on Mickey Mouse, whichever is shorter)

  • The government just wants to make you scared and give away your liberty so they have more power.

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

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