SARS may return

Global conference sets agenda for research to control future outbreaks

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)
Jun 17, 2003

KUALA LUMPUR—SARS may come back, even if for now it seems to be under control, Hong Kong's Health Minister Margaret Chang told The Scientist on the closing day of the World Health Organization global conference on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Kuala Lumpur (June 17–18).

Gro Harlem Brundtland, the outgoing WHO director general, spoke only of beating this "round" of SARS, and Chang said, "It's hard to say how it will come back… A lot more work is needed to establish the origin of the virus." In a guarded appeal to China to assist this research, she added, "We urge the WHO, working with the countries with the greatest disease burden, to study this."

But David Heymann, director of Communicable Diseases at WHO, had a different emphasis. He said that the conference had talked about "eradication." For this, stopping transmission among people was only the first step. "The...

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