In the United States, “there are no biosafety rules or regulations in force,” he said. “And this is in contrast to all other aspects of biomedical research.” For example, experiments with human subjects, vertebrates, radioactive materials, and lasers have enforceable rules, but causes illness. There are no rules for research using the organisms that cause the disease.
Dr. Lerman, who also supports the need for independent regulation, warned that legal regulation can also cause problems, as opposed to guidelines and more flexible regulation. “The law is tedious and slow,” he said. For example, at some point in the evolution of laws related to biological weapons, Congress banned the possession of smallpox. However, the wording of the rules also seemed to ban the possession of the vaccine because of its genetic similarity to the virus itself, Dr. Lerman said. “It took me forever to try to fix it,” he said.
Current HHS policies also do not provide much guidance on working with scientists from other countries. Some have different policies regarding feature acquisition research, while others do not.
Dr. Grombal of Johns Hopkins argued that the US government could not dictate what scientists would do in other parts of the world. “You have to accept autonomy,” she said. “You can’t sit on everyone’s shoulders.”
Even if other countries lack feature acquisition research policies, Dr. Lipsic said it should not stop the United States from developing better ones. As a world leader in biomedical research, the country can set an example. “The United States is central enough,” said Dr. Lipsic. “What we do is really important.”
Ironically, the pandemic has put aside deliberations on such issues. However, there is no doubt that the coronavirus affects the form of the debate. Before the pandemic, Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said the idea that a new virus would dominate the world and kill millions was hypothetically plausible. It was. Now he has seen what such a virus can do.
“We really need to think carefully about all kinds of research that could lead to such an accident in the future,” said Dr. Bloom.
Covid Lab Leak Theory Updates Discussion of “Function Acquisition” Research
Source link Covid Lab Leak Theory Updates Discussion of “Function Acquisition” Research