Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bank of England to play financial crash 'war game'


George Osborne and Mark Carney to play financial crash 'war game'
Chancellor and BoE Governor will be joined by US counterparts for exercise designed to end 'too big to fail'

An employee of Christie's auction house manoeuvres a Lehman Brothers corporate logo
George Osborne said the 'war game' will examine the failure of a big Wall Street bank, in a scenario similar to the collapse of Lehman Brothers Photo: Getty Images
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01950/szu-headshot_1950373j.jpg
By Szu Ping Chan, in Washington
11:01PM BST 10 Oct 2014
A financial crash to rival the one caused by Lehman Brothers' collapse will be played out by the world’s most powerful central bankers next week, in a “war game” designed to help end the “too big to fail” problem.
In the first simulation of its kind, Janet Yellen, the head of the US Federal Reserve, and Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, will be joined by Chancellor George Osborne and US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who will be tested on their reaction to a major US or UK bank failure.
The exercise, designed by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, forms part of a series of measures designed to end the phenomenon of “too big to fail”, limit the risks to financial stability and protect taxpayers from future bailouts.
Mr Osborne said the “war game”, which will take place in Washington after the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting, will examine the failure of a big Wall Street bank with UK operations, and that of a major UK bank with a division in the US.
"We're going to make sure that we handle an institution that would have previously been regarded as 'too big to fail'," he said. "We're confident that we now have choices that did not exist in the past, so we don’t have to choose between bailing a bank out and letting it collapse.
"London is a global financial centre, and is both home and host to some of the world’s biggest and most important banks. This brings with it many opportunities for jobs and growth, but we need to make sure that taxpayers are not on the hook for future bank failures."
UK policymakers have conducted similar exercises at a working level, with a war game simulation testing the City's defenses against a cyber attack. However, Monday’s exercise is the first to involve top policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Minouche Shafik, the Bank of England's deputy governor for markets and banking, and US Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Jo White will also be present.
“I think this demonstrates the distance that we've come in the last few years, to build resilience, to learn the lessons of the financial crisis, to make sure we are better prepared for whatever the world throws at us in the future," said Mr Osborne.
The initial findings of the simulation will be published next week, and will form one of the cornerstones of G20 proposals to strengthen the financial system that Mr Carney, who is also head of the Financial Stability Board, is expected to present in Australia next month.
Britain has already taken steps to create a safer banking sector by implementing reforms to change remuneration and make senior executives more accountable for bank failures.
Under new proposals to prevent runs on banks, the Bank of England also unveiled measures this week that would ensure savers would see deposits of up to £1m protected if a lender collapsed.

Rothchild's Company Golden Veroleum Liberia embroil in blackmail to win concessions


'Blackmail' over GVL agreement?
SOURCE: LENNART DODOO
Over 600 citizens of Tarjuowon Statutory District signed the MOU and Social Contract Agreement
Over 600 citizens of Tarjuowon Statutory District signed the MOU and Social Contract Agreement
Running a concession in Liberia is definitely not an easy task. It is always a two-way street – the company gets their wants and the people get their benefits. Development in rural Liberia is primarily spearheaded by foreign concession companies who legally sign agreement with the government of Liberia.
In the Western part of Liberia, Sime Darby and Western Cluster are the main concession companies providing jobs for the indigenous and at the same time providing some social amenities. In Central Liberia, China Union is making its own strives.
In the Southeast, Golden Veroleum Liberia is taking the lead in oil palm production and is targeting 40,000 job opportunities for the people of the Souteast. ArcelorMittal and BHp Billiton are having their fair share of the benefits and the backlashes from citizens.
In as much as there are sometimes glaring evidence that some of these concession companies relent on their responsibilities to the people, the INSIGHT has also discovered that there are some individuals who also stair up disagreement within concession areas for their personal gains.
On November 9, 2013 Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) signed social agreement with the people of Tarjuowon Statutory District in Unification Town, Sinoe County.
At the signing ceremony, Sinoe County Superintendent, Mr. Milton Teahjay, said told the gathering that the signing of the social agreement between the people of Tarjuowon and an important investor like GVL have achieved one of his goals. “I’m the proudest Superintendent in Liberia to have a strong, committed development partner like GVL. I will continue partnerships by making sure that chiefs, elders, youth, women among others are a part of GVL operations in the district,” Teahjay said.
Under the agreement, Golden Veroleum Liberia will construct schools, clinics, hand pumps, build houses, rehabilitate roads, run adult literacy schools and give preference to citizens of Tarjuowon for employment opportunities in the area.
The signing of the agreement preceded an invitation from Kulu United Development Association (KUDA) who held series of consultation meetings with the people of Tarjuowon District both at home and in the diaspora.
However, documents in our possession shows that the chairman of KUDA, apparently not seeking the consent of the entire leadership, issued a press release indicating that serious concerns have been raised by communities from the Kulu Shaw Boe District over the signing the memorandum of understanding with GVL.
The Chairman, Mr. Sampson Toby, claimed that while they held meeting with members of Kulu within the district to discuss GVL’s proposed oil palm operations on their land, GVL carried citizens from the meeting venue in Jacksonville in Kulu to a parallel meeting in Unification City in Nyam to sign a memorandum of understanding.
“The people of Kulu oppose several provisions within the concession agreement between GVL and the Government of Liberia as they believe they are not in the interest of the communities…” the purported KUDA release asserted.
Mr. Toby’s release further alleged: “We have tried to engage constructively with GVL and to discuss our concerns but the process leading to the signing of the MOU has been characterized by outright disregard and violation of the Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) process.”
But a letter from KUDA addressed to the Director of GVL, Mr. David Rothschild, (a copy in the possession of the INSIGHT) expresses shock and dismay over “the communication unilaterally and illegally written by Mr. Sampson Toby, Chairman of KUDA, questioning the memorandum of understanding and social contract signed by the people of Tarjuowon and Golden Veroleum recently.”
“We wish to inform you and others with whom Mr. Toby distributed his one-man communication that the leadership is not aware of said letter and content thereof; that the communication under his signature is personal, clandestine and does not represent the views and aspirations of the leadership of Kulu in Monrovia, let alone the people of Kulu in Monrovia and at home,” the letter noted.
“The issue of land, the world over, is critical and contentious,” the letter indicted. It continued “It involves the hearts and souls of the people who live on the land from time to time. It is therefore inconceivable that Mr. Toby without fear of God and in total disregard to the byelaws and constitution of KUDA would take upon himself the sacred responsibility to secretly, shamelessly and unilaterally communicate comments and opinions about Kulu land in such a reckless way he did having lured GVL into providing US$1,535 to him; without broad-based consultation within KUDA leadership and amongst the cross-section of the people of Kulu.”
The letter signed by the Secretary General of KUDA, Mr. Brown Noah Keh, noted that the association is appalled and troubled by the fact that Mr. Toby, having negotiated with GVL and received US$1,535 from GVL for the purpose of going to Sinoe to hold meeting with the people of Kulu with the aim of discussing the MOU and Social Contract, organized a “small clique” of Monrovia-based Kulu citizens from both Monrovia and Tarjuowon and used the meeting to demonize GVL and disparage the purpose of the MOU.
Mr.Keh called on GVL to squash the communication received by the purported KUDA group, noting that Mr. Toby needs to prove that he is not pursuing personal aggrandizement using the people’s name as a smokescreen.
However, speaking to the INSIGHT via mobile phone, Mr. Toby said Mr. Keh who wrote letter to GVL was acting under the influence of County Superintendent Mr. Milton Teahjay. According to Toby, Golden Veroleum did not properly explain the agreement before making the people sign. He added that Superintendent Teahjay was not acting in the interest of the people of Sinoe County.
He, however, admitted receiving money from GVL for the purpose of having meeting with the people of Sinoe over the agreement. He told the INSIGHT that the amount was used to transport and host Kulu citizens from Monrovia to Sinoe for the meeting. He further told the INSIGHT that GVL did not turn up for the meeting.
Meanwhile, documents perused by the INSIGHT showed that 623 members of leaders of the district singed the GVL memorandum of understanding and the social contract agreement with GVL.
- See more at: http://insight.com.lr/public/story.php?record_id=4129&sub=14&mi=#sthash.IhgGrkiT.dpuf

Rothchild Veroleum Company in Liberia Land Grab

Liberia: GOL, Golden Veroleum in US$1.6bn negotiation
Published: 12 Jan 2010

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Mr. Boakai in handshake with Mr. Matt Karinen of Golden Veroleum Resources (Photo: Liberian Observer)
Liberian Observer | 12 Jan 2010
By George D. Kennedy
MONROVIA – Indonesian global palm oil giant, Golden Agri-Veroleum, and the Inter-ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC) of the Government of Liberia (GOL) have began negotiating what could be the biggest investment in Liberia’s agriculture industry.
Veroleum has applied to invest more than US$1.6 billion dollars on more than 240,000 hectares of oil palm to boost the country’s oil palm sector.
If approved, the investment will take place in southeastern Liberia, specifically in Sinoe, Grand Kru and Maryland counties.
Golden Agri Resources is the largest palm oil operator in Indonesia and the second largest in the world, with operations in China.
The company belongs to the Sinar Mas Group, one of the leading business groups in Indonesia, with major assets in pulp and paper, palm oil, property and telecom. GoldenVeroleum is also a member of the Singapore listed Golden Agri-Resources Company in Asia.
Last week, the company sent a high-powered delegation to Liberia to follow up on last year’s discussion with a Liberian IMCC delegation that visited Indonesia.
Upon arrival into the country, the Indonesian investors met with Liberia’s Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, at his Capitol Hill offices in Monrovia.
The Vice President said the proposed investment would provide the needed employment opportunities in southeastern Liberia.
A statement issued by Boakai's office on January 5, 2010, noted his observation that the southeast has attractive investment opportunities and prospects, and that the Golden Veroleum investment will be a very positive one for Liberia.
“Employment and job creation have been difficult in the southeast; so we are very keen on this investment. You have our full support,” Boakai assured the Golden Veroleum officials. “Despite all problems we are confronted with, we are definitely committed to addressing the critical challenges in the southeast,” he added.
Briefing the Liberian Vice President, the head of the delegation, Matt Karinen said his company’s vision for Liberia is to cultivate over 240,000 hectares of oil palm in Grand Kru, Sinoe and Maryland Counties, (including 40,000 hectares via out growers), with the goal of producing more than one million tons of palm oil per annum.
He said the company will provide direct employment for an estimated 40,000 persons, as well as develop infrastructure, train out growers and provide them low cost seedlings for cultivation and production of final brand of consumer products for local consumption and export to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries.
“The investment will also fully follow the government’s environmental master plan and standards,” Karinen assured the Liberian Vice President.
He disclosed that Veroleum will need to use the rehabilitated ports of Greenville and Harper for the export of oil palm products and import of needed materials.
The Veroleum official expressed optimism that his company as well as other palm oil producing entities such as Equatorial Palm Oil and Sime Darby can transform Liberia into one of the major producers of palm oil in the world for export and to meet domestic needs.
Karinen and his colleague, David Rothschild, were in the country last week holding discussions with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, National Investment Commission (NIC) and other relevant government agencies.
In remarks during the meeting, Rothschild said he was impressed with the transformation taking place in post-war Liberia, noting that he has seen considerable increase in building and in commercial ventures in the capital since he started coming to the country about 15 months ago.
They expressed optimism that the company would begin operations in Liberia in six months, and hoped the legislature would speed up ratification of their concession agreement.
Karinen pledged that his company would forge a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with small farmers (otherwise known as out growers), training them, supplying them low cost seeds and other materials and integrating them in farmer cooperatives while providing them with loans.
He also challenged the Liberian government to take advantage of the country’s rich soil and ideal climate to transform the lives of its citizens as has been the case in Indonesia and Malaysia.
- See more at: http://farmlandgrab.org/10208#sthash.6oj9zLzU.hO5lPUah.dpuf

Cruise ship denied port in Belize as US tries to evacuate Dallas nurse

Cruise ship denied port in Belize as US tries to evacuate Dallas nurse who handled Ebola sample
October 17, 2014
A Dallas health-care worker who “may have” handled lab specimens from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been isolated in a cabin on board a commercial cruise ship in the Caribbean. Reports corroborate that the Belize Coast Guard would not let the vessel or its thousands of passengers into port, confirmed by a release on the Facebook page of the Press Office.
AP
Obama administration officials say a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is being monitored for any signs of infection.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH’-kee) says in a statement Friday that the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days.

The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The White House says the State Department is working with an unidentified country to secure their transportation home.

Psaki says that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.
So the CDC has let another “self-monitor” case board another mode of large commercial transportation because it failed to update the level of surveillance needed, after allowing Amber Vinson to fly with Ebola symptoms.
washingtonpost.com
The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee and a traveling partner boarded the ship Oct. 12 in Galveston, Tex., before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the requirement for active monitoring, the State Department said in a statement. Although the worker is showing no symptoms of the disease, the U.S. government is working with the cruise line to get the ship back to America “out of an abundance of caution.”
The employee, who has not been named, did not come into direct contact with Duncan, who was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. However, he or she may have been exposed to his clinical specimens.
“It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed” Ducan’s fluid samples, according to the statement by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki early Friday. “The cruise line has actively supported CDC’s efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin.”
The government of Belize denied the ship entry to port once aware of the details of the request. The US government requested help in returning the pair to the United States on a flight from the Belize’s Phillip Goldson International Airport.
7newsbelize.com
There is a major developing story in the Belize harbor this evening – and it is that two cruise ship passengers who have been flagged as possible Ebola cases – are on a boat tender trying to come into Belize City tonight for movement to the PGIA where an air ambulance is reportedly waiting. But, our information says Belizean authorities are currently refusing them entry to Belize so that they can get to the airport. Those authorities are asking that they be sent back to the cruise ship. That’s where it is at this hour – and there is no official information – though we have been trying to reach multiple senior persons in the ministry of health. The tender reportedly remains in the harbor – between the cruise ship and Belize City – with US authorities seeking assistance of Belizean authorities to grant them passage. It is reportedly a couple. Again, no confirmation at this hour but more than one credible report.
We’ll keep following this and have more tomorrow…
UPDATE: US STATE – LEVEL REQUESTS FOR DISEMBARKATION AND TRANSFER TO AIR AMBULANCE WERE DENIED AND THE CRUISE SHIP HAS LEFT BELIZE’S WATERS. THE SHIP TURNED AT 9:00PM, AND AIR AMBULANCE LEFT PGIA AIRPORT.
ebolabelize
Another Latin American news source had more details that seem to be in line with the developing picture.
quepasacorozal.com
The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness.
Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.
After a whole day of conversation back and forth between the Belize and US Government we are told that at about 8:00 PM Belize Time the ship belonging to Carnival Magic Cruise Line was ordered to leave Belizean Waters and to return back to the US.
We are told that the Belize Coast Guard was on scene all day to ensure that not a single passenger of the cruise ship was to disembark and step foot on Belizean soil.
Reports are that more than 3500 passengers are on the ship with an unknown number of crew.
This is second instance of a Dallas Ebola-contacted healthcare worker causing a panic by boarding large commercial transportation. The broken containment comes as it is believed the entire exposed staff was supposed to be bound by agreements not to travel on methods that could put others at risk.
Guardian
Seventy-five staff members from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital are being given a “binding legal document and order” that states they will avoid public transport, not go to areas where large numbers of people congregate, and continue to be monitored twice a day for symptoms, county judge Clay Jenkins said on Thursday.
Any of those involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan who refuse to sign the agreement would be subject to a legal control order, Jenkins told reporters after a meeting of the county commissioners court in downtown Dallas. “All the remedies of the law are available,” he said. However he said he believed this would not be necessary. “These are hometown healthcare heroes,” he said. “They’re not going to jail.”
It was unclear how long the agreements would be in force. After first suggesting that all 75 healthcare workers had approved them, Jenkins conceded that the wording had only just been finalised, and that some of the 75 may have learned of it from watching broadcasts of the commissioners meeting. “This is clearly not the way I wanted it to go,” he said.
The agreement to monitor the conditions of the healthcare workers was obtained by CNN.
ebolamonitoragreement
Meanwhile, this was spotted on the internet.
Ebola-Cruise

As Ebola Spreads, Pressure Mounts to Deploy RNAi Antiviral

As Ebola Spreads Fear in Western Africa, Pressure Mounts to Deploy RNAi Antiviral
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W1pGHLRCv48/UzSclMrKB-I/AAAAAAAACHE/jokASo1-cF4/s1600/fear.jpg


A day or so following reassurances by the Guinean authorities that the Ebola virus outbreak had been contained and was under control, news is making the rounds of confirmed lethal cases in Conakry, the 2 million capital city of the country, and in neighboring countries in Western Africa.  With the death toll rising, the disease spreading internationally, and the virus paralyzing affected areas, pressure is mounting to call in an RNAi Therapeutic which has proven to be effective in the most stringent efficacy models possible.  66 are thought to have died from the disease by now, at least 4 of which are healthcare workers.

The therapeutic, developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and funded by a $140M contract from the US Department of Defense, has shown 100% post-exposure survival in monkeys infected with the otherwise highly (90%) lethal Zaire strain of the virus.  This is the same virus ravaging through Western Africa right now.  Because of this, the Ebola therapeutic which targets two viral sequences simultaneously and which entered phase I in-man studies earlier this year, there is a very high likelihood that TKM-Ebola will be applicable in this situation.

Only days ago, TKM-Ebola was bestowed fast-track status by the FDA.

Under normal circumstances, licensure of TKM-Ebola would follow the Animal Rule.  According to the Animal Rule, treatments for diseases for which it is either impractical or unethical to conduct efficacy studies, can be approved by the US FDA if sufficient efficacy can be demonstrated in stringent animal models (monkeys here) and human safety at corresponding dose levels.  Ebola obviously is a candidate for the Animal Rule since experimental infections of humans cannot be done ethically and natural outbreaks are so rare and unpredictable.

Following the demonstrations of animal efficacy, the ongoing single- and multi-dose ascending phase I in-man study for which the single-dose phase appears to have already concluded is designed to confirm such safety.  To make sure that the findings are robust, this is typically followed by larger animal efficacy and human safety studies.  At this point (~2016/7), the FDA would make its decision regarding licensure which would lead to stockpiling orders from the US government for preparedness against bioterrorist attacks.


Arguments for deployment of TKM-Ebola in Western Africa

Although TKM-Ebola has not completed the formal requirements under the Animal Rule, it is fair to assume that TKM-Ebola, the most advanced Ebola anti-viral in development, will do more good than harm in a disease without alternatives besides supportive care.  With a lethality of 80-90%, I would certainly take my chances.

A deployment would serve at least two purposes.  Firstly, it would give us a chance to confirm the effectiveness of the RNAi Therapeutic in actual humans.  In addition to the scientific value, if I were the US government, I would be eager to take advantage of the unique opportunity at testing efficacy before spending billions on an agent for which there is only theoretical human efficacy.

Secondly, having TKM-Ebola as a standby in hospitals would help restore some calm and confidence, especially among the healthcare workers which need to contain the outbreak.  It is also most likely that from a logistics point-of-view, this is the population where TKM-Ebola would be most effective as it is here where the disease can be detected and drug administered early enough for the treatment to be effective (within 2 to 3 days following exposure).

In order for TKM-Ebola to have maximal impact, manufacturing would have to be scaled up (I estimate ~2 months for the production of large lots) and the logistics around diagnostics and treatment administration put in place.  Nobody knows whether the current outbreak will spread further, but it is better to be prepared in case it does.  As the suspected Canadian case this week illustrated, Ebola is now just a plane ride away from us. 


Watch out for the April 1 presentation by Dr. Ian MacLachlan from Tekmira on the latest data for TKM-Ebola which will be in front of a sell-out crowd at the FILO 2014 conference in Galveston, Texas.

Virus experiments risk unleashing global pandemic, study warns

Virus experiments risk unleashing global pandemic, study warns
Benefits of scientific testing in the area are outweighed by risks of pathogenic strains spreading round world, say researchers
Dr. Terrence Tumpey examines specimens of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus in the US
Scientists examine specimens of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus in the US. Photograph: Reuters
Public health experts have warned that controversial experiments on mutant viruses could put human lives in danger by unleashing an accidental pandemic.
Several groups of scientists around the world are creating and altering viruses to understand how natural strains might evolve into more lethal forms that spread easily among humans.
But in a report published on Tuesday, researchers at Harvard and Yale universities in the US argue that the benefits of the work are outweighed by the risk of pathogenic strains escaping from laboratories and spreading around the world.
They calculate that if 10 high-containment labs in the US performed such experiments for 10 years, the chance of at least one person becoming infected was nearly 20%. If an infected person left the laboratory, the virus might then spread more widely.
"We are not saying this is going to happen, but when the potential is a pandemic, even a small chance is something you have to weigh very heavily," said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health, who wrote the report with Alison Galvani, an epidemiologist at Yale.
The report threatens to reignite a crisis in science that erupted in 2012 when a US biosecurity panel ruled that two separate studies on mutant bird flu were too dangerous to publish. They described the creation of new mutant strains that spread among ferrets – a proxy for humans – held in neighbouring cages. One fear was that the recipe for the pathogens might fall into the hands of bioterrorists.
Those studies, led by Ron Fouchier at Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison respectively, were eventually published after months of delays. Other researchers have now begun similar experiments.
Both Fouchier and Kawaoka criticised the latest report, published in Plos Medicine, and said their work had full ethical, safety and security approval, with the risks and benefits taken into account.
Last year, the US government, which funds most of the controversial work, revised its guidelines for "dual-use research of concern", or DURC. Under the new rules, work can be funded if the potential benefits are substantial and the risks considered to be manageable.
But Lipsitch said there was no evidence that the risks and benefits had been weighed up properly. "To my knowledge, no such thing has been done, but funding for these experiments continues," he said.
Lipsitch said that the US government and other funding bodies must commission comprehensive risk assessments from independent experts before deciding which studies to support.
Lipsitch and Galvani are most concerned about what are called gain-of-function studies, which aim to create highly virulent strains of viruses in secure laboratories so their genetic codes can be studied. Mutations that make a respiratory virus lodge in the throat, for example, can make the virus more transmissible through coughing.
The rational for gain-of-function studies is twofold. If scientists can work out which mutations make a virus more dangerous to people, they can improve surveillance by looking out for those mutations in natural strains. The work might also help to steer vaccine development. But Lipsitch argues that neither justification stands up: surveillance is not good enough to use the information, and vaccine developers can do without it, he says.
Rather than creating dangerous viruses in high-containment laboratories, Lipsitch and Galvani urge scientists to pursue alternative routes, for example, comparisons of seasonal human flu strains and other respiratory viruses that have jumped from animals into humans. These are not only safer, the authors claim, but the studies are scientifically sound, because they do not rely on small numbers of animals.
The report was roundly rejected by Fouchier and Kawaoka, two of the leading scientists in gain-of-function studies. Fouchier said the authors were wrong on both points they made – that alternative experiments could provide answers about the transmissibility of viruses, and that the risk of an outbreak or pandemic was high.
"The research agenda they propose is important and currently ongoing, but alone will never lead to solid conclusions about mammalian adaptation and transmission: the proof of the pudding will need to come from gain-of-function studies using infectious viruses. This is why the department of health and human services has approved our research, taking into account all ethical, safety and security issues, and weighing the risks of the research against the benefits," Fouchier said.
He said the authors had misinterpreted published data to arrive at their risk of someone picking up a virus in the laboratory. "The truth is that scientific research has never triggered a virus pandemic." Lipsitch and Galvani point out that a flu strain that spread around the world from 1977 to 2009 was probably released in a laboratory accident.
Kawaoka was similarly unimpressed with the report. "The authors imply that gain-of-function studies are going on without proper reviews. This is not so and suggests they do not understand how highly regulated this work is and the approvals and planning required to conduct this research," he said. "This commentary lists many experiments they think we should be doing. We are doing many of those experiments already."
Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said that scientists working on the controversial virus studies should be less defensive. "There are times when we have to open up and face our critics. Marc is articulating what many of us feel is obvious," he said.