Paris: Scientists who created a mutant virus to explore a key aspect of influenza published their research today after a four-month storm that brewed fears of bioterrorism and accusations of censorship. The controversy began in December when teams in the United States and the Netherlands separately said they had engineered a hybrid virus in high-security labs. Their goal was to understand how a highly lethal strain of flu which spreads among birds but is hard to transmit to mammals could mutate into a variant that is contagious among humans. A 23-member expert panel that advises the US government called for manuscript changes before the work could be published in a journal, the traditional arena for displaying and discussing scientific work. It feared that full disclosure could help a rogue state or bioterror group make a virus against which no-one would be immune. But some scientists lashed the recommendation, saying it was an attempt to censor or stifle scientific discourse.
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