Virulent bird flu research to be released after another delay

Research on how to make H5N1, a deadly avian influenza strain, more contagious in humans will be released "probably within a few months," according to The New York Times.

Controversy erupted last month when the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity asked two scientific journals to censor the research because of fears terrorists could use it to develop a bioweapon. 

More from GlobalPost: Scientists pause study of deadly bird flu strains

Scientists in Wisconsin and Holland modified the H5N1 virus, which exists in birds but is rare in humans, so that it is tranmissible by air between ferrets. The illness is highly deadly when contracted by humans.

“The consensus was that in the interest of public health the full papers should be published,” said Professor Ron Fouchier from the Institute of Virology in the Netherlands, the scientist behind one of the studies.

22 experts met on Thursday and Friday to discuss whether the terror risk outweighed the benefits of allowing scientists to research the spread of the disease, data which could be used to help stop the spread of the deadly illness if it mutates on its own in the wild, the BBC reported.

"Most of the group felt that any theoretical risk of the virus’s being used by terrorists was far outweighed by the 'real and present danger' of similar flu viruses in the wild," the Times wrote.

AFP reported that the initial 60 day moratiorium on publication will be extended indefinitely, though scientists expect the data will be published. 

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