US lifts ban on research involving dangerous pathogens like SARS, MERS, and Avian flu

The three year moratorium on funding research was lifted on Tuesday, Dec.19

Research on deadly pathogens may again receive federal funding in the US.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) –The US government has lifted the temporary moratorium imposed in October 2014 on the funding of research involving dangerous germs and pathogens.

Some pathogens covered under the 2014 funding ban include the avian flu, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

The ban was instituted after several accidents and safety breeches at federal laboratories involving the handling of samples of avian flu and anthrax material.

Adding to the general concern in 2014 was an announcement from researchers in Wisconsin and the Netherlands that the avian flu had been engineered to be more contagious in certain mammals, according to the Washington Post.

With the ban now lifted, the federal government will be able to develop laboratory enhanced pathogens, so-called “gain of function” research, which some analysts argue may be used to design incredibly dangerous biological weapons.

The proponents of lifting the ban argue that the research involving these dangerous pathogens is necessary to better understand the biological mechanisms involved in spreading as well as combating the outbreak of infectious diseases.

The US National Institute of Health (NIH) said in a statement that the research would only be carried out in the most secure of locations, and that the NIH was fully aware of the risks involved, and that they would take necessary precautions.

(Image: Pixabay)