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First of Two Controversial H5N1 Papers Appears

First of Two Controversial H5N1 Papers Appears

After much delay and intense global controversy, Britain’s Nature magazine has published online the first of two papers describing how the bird flu virus could be modified to be more transmissible from mammal to mammal through the air. The paper, “Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets,” reports work by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Tokyo.

Both Nature and Science, its U.S. counterpart, carried news reports about the decision to proceed with publication. Nature’s report, by Ed Yong, is to be recommended especially for a nice graphic summarizing the steps taken to modify the H5N1 virus, the Science report, by Martin Enserink and Jon Cohen, for its dispassionate analysis of how the decision to publish was reached. The second of the two articles, by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, is expected to follow soon in Science magazine.



William Sweet

Bill Sweet has been writing about nuclear arms control and peace politics since interning at the IAEA in Vienna during summer 1974, right after India's test of a "peaceful nuclear device." As an editor and writer for Congressional Quarterly, Physics Today and IEEE Spectrum magazine he wrote about the freeze and European peace movements, space weaponry and Star Wars, Iraq, North Korea and Iran. His work has appeared in magazines like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and The New Republic, as well as in The New York Times, the LA Times, Newsday and the Baltimore Sun. The author of two books--The Nuclear Age: Energy, Proliferation and the Arms Race, and Kicking the Carbon Habit: The Case for Renewable and Nuclear Energy--he recently published "Situating Putin," a group of essays about contemporary Russia, as an e-book. He teaches European history as an adjunct at CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College.