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    A scientist's call to release new avian influenza data
    Submitted by Martin Kucej; posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006


    Martin Enserink writes the following in the March 3rd edition of Science:

    ``An impassioned call by a prominent Italian influenza scientist has renewed the debate about how to balance global health against scientists' needs to publish and countries' demands for secrecy. On 16 February, Ilaria Capua of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Italy asked more than 50 colleagues around the world to release all sequence data for the H5N1 avian influenza strain into the public domain. Comparing sequence data from every H5N1 isolate as soon as they become available is crucial for understanding how the virus moves and evolves, Capua argues.

    ``Putting her money where her mouth is, Capua entered H5N1 sequence data from two recently infected countries, Nigeria and Italy, into the GenBank database the same day. She also rejected an offer by the World Health Organization (WHO) to join a select circle of 15 labs that share bird flu sequences on a password-protected Web site.

    ``But some scientists say sharing data instantly is complicated by the need for credit, and WHO argues that without some form of confidentiality, some countries would not submit samples at all.''

    Full story (print reference):
    Enserink, Martin. 2006. AVIAN INFLUENZA: As H5N1 Keeps Spreading, a Call to Release More Data. Science 311:1224.

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