The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has given the go-ahead for Nature and Science to publish two avian influenza papers it had previously recommended censoring, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education. Last December, the NSABB recommended redacting data detailing the mutations that the H5N1 viruses had acquired in lab experiments that conferred ferret-to-ferret transmission through the air. After meeting late last week to review revised versions of the papers, the NSABB reversed this decision, now recommending full publication.
The initial decision to censor some of the data resulted in a heated debate, and raised some questions regarding the safety precautions that had been taken during the research. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who led one of the studies, told The Chronicle in an email statement that revisions to his paper detailed such precautions, and supported his argument that his data will improve international surveillance for H5N1.
"The data described in the revised manuscripts do not appear to provide information that would immediately enable misuse of the research in ways that would endanger public health or national security," the NSABB said in a statement.