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Now here's a twist. Sure, I post weekly updates on where we're at with bird flu. And I'm very interested in the fact that ABC News will be presenting bird flu coverage all week (they've put together a helpful summary):
Avian flu has the potential to be a major crisis, and top government and public health officials are planning for the worst. However, almost without exception, they all say the worst-case scenario -- easy transmission from human to human -- is unlikely, but still possible.

Here are two key facts to help put the virus in context:

Right now, this is a virus that primarily affects birds. More than 200 million birds have died or been killed, while 97 humans have died worldwide. Each year in just the United States alone, 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.

In China, the disease is widespread among birds. The World Health Organization has confirmed just 15 infections and 10 deaths among humans in a population of 1.3 billion people -- a rate of one case per 86 million people and one death per 130 million.

But there's an interesting political story brewing. In order to make sense of it, let me quote two recent articles from some excellent reporters. From Nicholas Zamiska, WSJ:

Scientists around the world, racing to discover how avian influenza is spreading and whether it is evolving toward a pandemic strain, face a dilemma: Should they share their interim findings widely, show them only to a select set of peers, or keep them to themselves until they can publish papers, often critical to their careers?

Even as the World Health Organization presses China and other countries to share bird-flu data for the public good, the WHO itself runs a database limited to a select group of scientists and containing a massive trove of data - some 2,300 genetic sequences of the virus, around a third of the world's known sequences, according to two people familiar with the database's contents. Any one of those sequences could hold clues to an effective human vaccine or drugs that could kill the virus, or help scientists determine how great a threat it poses.

Now, a lone Italian researcher has cast a harsh spotlight on the WHO's system, suggesting that it places academic pride over public health - and snubbing it by posting prized bird-flu data in plain view.


Helen Branswell writes:
A leading scientist in the field of genetic sequencing is calling on publicly funded U.S. researchers and research organizations to throw open their collections of H5N1 avian flu viruses to allow others to work toward lessening the pandemic threat the virus poses.

Steven Salzberg wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health to place their virus sequence data in open-access databanks on an as-processed basis. He hopes such a move would entice scientists elsewhere, as well as governments in H5N1-afflicted countries, to end a pattern of virus hoarding many believe is undermining the world's ability to battle H5N1.

"I think what ought to happen is that the U.S., starting with people funded by NIH and the CDC itself ought to start releasing all of their data and all of their samples -- and lead by example," says Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland.

"Because one complaint I've heard from other scientists in other countries is: `Hey, the CDC in the U.S. doesn't release all their data. So why should we?' And that's a very legitimate complaint."

We need your help to make sure scientists in the US and abroad working on this issue have access to all the data they need. The next effective vaccine may require sequences from Indonesia, China, or who knows where. And George W Bush's NIH and CDC may be part of the problem.

Now, don't mistake this for a lack of respect. As the reveres at Effect Measure point out:
Most of the offenders here are among the most important and dedicated scientists to work on avian influenza. They deserve the high regard in which they are held. But they have spent almost all their professional careers doing academic science in a completely different environment. Today we have almost instant accessibility through the internet and public databases like GenBank. We also have a looming pandemic catastrophe.

It's time for these venerable and worthy old dogs to learn new tricks.


We need to make sure that the publish-or-perish attitude doesn't bring new meaning to the word 'perish'. And since many of the sequences are under the care and direction of the NIH and the CDC, that's another route to take. This link to Flu Wiki has some of the players and whom to contact. They include your senators and representatives.

The US should be leading the way in transparency and open access. Don't let politics get in the way of science. Support Dr. Capua and the other renowned scientists here and abroad in liberating the H5N1 sequences and let them be deposited in GenBank and the other Open Access repositories.

Sure, it's a new and different way to do things. So since when is politics as usual a good thing?

Oh, and before anyone posts about how much money Rummy stands to make, please read this. And thank you all for your support.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 10:41 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  IMF and bird flu (7+ / 0-)


    IMF wants more bird flu readiness

    The timing and strength of a pandemic is impossible to predict

    Many nations are not taking the threat of bird flu seriously enough and are lagging behind in their preparations for a pandemic, the IMF has warned.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 10:43:37 AM PST

  •  cats and bird flu (6+ / 0-)

    I hope no one thinks this is a trivial post but ever since I heard about the cats who died from bird flu I've been worried that some overly zealous types would try and derail the very successful Trap, Neuter and Release programs (which I support) that are in place in several states in the country.

    Alley Cat Allies, an organization devoted to saving feral cats, has posted info making it clear humans can't get bird flu from infectected cats.

    Bushco, putting the mock in democracy.

    by Southern Bell on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 10:44:14 AM PST

  •  Goog God, man.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SleeplessinSeattle

    Have we collectively as a race lost our minds (forget the political junk on-going in the US for now)?

    If we place academic pride above human survival (either in micro--a few people, or in the macro--the entire race, or at least a significant chunk of it), then perhaps it is time for the human race to pass from the stage.

    I kind of recall the Bible stating that "Pride goeth before a fall."  Wow, how true does that seem now.

    •  Memo to self.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SleeplessinSeattle

      Turn on mental spell checker.

      Sorry.  The comment title above should have read "Good God, man"

    •  write your sens and reps (0+ / 0-)

      feel free to make a little noise.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 10:50:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  thought crime! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RB in Pgh

      the free markets fix everything, donchyaknow!?!?

      this could get really ugly really quick, with all kinds of criticisms of our academic standards and all the jumping through the hoops bullshit of publish or perish.

      but that would be its own diary entirely.

      weather forecast

      The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

      by Cedwyn on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:01:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Defense: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, HiBob

      I think the article's a little misleading.  The reality is more accurately represented at the beginning of the quote:

      Should they share their interim findings widely, show them only to a select set of peers, or keep them to themselves until they can publish papers, often critical to their careers?

      It's not that a bunch of doctors are sitting on this information because they have pride issues.  In academia, if you don't publish, you don't get paid.  Our whole system of rewarding researchers actually works against research, because the researcher who shares is the researcher who loses his/her job and goes homeless.  

      Not "pride goeth before the fall" but "publication goeth before the paycheck."  It's hard to make an argument about "greater good" if someone's facing a job review.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:04:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  there's more than one issue (0+ / 0-)
        but many of the researchers have agreed to the "open access" approach. as I said in the article, i have thee greaest respect for the researchers.

        So some of this is self-defense, not greed (that I reserve for the publishers, who insist on exclusivity pre-publication). But the need is real, and the 'current system' should be challenged. it is not fitting the needs of the public, and ultimately not viable.

        That means that everyone should change it together. But for those public facilities like NIH and CDC, that's a different issue as is the politics of countries hoarding data for prestige.

        There needs to be multiple approaches, but there also needs to be pressure brought to bear to make change happen

        Of that I have no doubt. In the meantime, I salute the scientists who are taking steps to share their work.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 01:53:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the face of dwindling grant support? Suicide. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          riverlover, pico

          I agree that it's in the public's best interest to get this information out there.  But, the pressure for grants is almost unparalleled; it's at least as bad (from what I hear) as during Regan's reign of error.  The scientist who shares the snippets of data he or she gets as they come in is doing the world a great favor.  But, when it comes time to get funding for their work, they will surely be punished.  Why?

          The scientist who hoards their data, and compiles enough together will surely get a high profile publication.  The grant reviewing agency will see this as "substantial progress".  But, by "merely" contributing this data to the body of knowledge as it comes in, the same compilation of data will no longer be "novel", and it will not be publishable in a high profile journal.

          With some NIH agencies routinely rejecting 90-95% of grants submitted, it's a cut-throat world right now.  Because, no publications = no money = no research = no job.  I'm not saying it's right, but that's the way it is.  The federal dollars for research are getting hit from all sides-- cuts in real dollars, inflation, and "funny business" such as earmarks.  The money's going away, and fast.  Older, established researchers are running scared, and younger ones such as myself are generally getting screwed.

          Sure, "open access" is a nice ideal.  But it's probably career suicide, unless the NIH implements some substantial incentives to those folks who "show their cards" to the rest of the poker players at the table.

          •  that's exactly why it's a NIH and CDC problem (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RB in Pgh, pico
            to fix, and not simply the individual researcher. But if they all do it, and this is a bandwagon effect, it's easier to get done. Some have started... now comes the snowball effect. But pressure on NIH is called for.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 03:31:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  publicly funded (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandora, Cedwyn, RB in Pgh

    These are key words.  Repeat as needed.

    I used to live in the United States of America. Now I live in a homeland.

    by homeland observer on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 10:45:38 AM PST

    •  yes, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RB in Pgh, HiBob

      there is lots of publically funded research that could legitimately be kept from public domain. This is not one of those cases, but obviously the "public" funds the CIA and DoD, and there are legitimate reasons not to release everything they do publically.

      Also "publicly" funded (NIH, etc) research can be patented and turned into a profit, which I find quite questionable, but actually drive much of the biotech industry.

      Not making DNA sequences available is going to do more harm then good. Will be interesting how this turns out.

    •  yes, but (0+ / 0-)

      there is lots of publically funded research that could legitimately be kept from public domain. This is not one of those cases, but obviously the "public" funds the CIA and DoD, and there are legitimate reasons not to release everything they do publically.

      Also "publicly" funded (NIH, etc) research can be patented and turned into a profit, which I find quite questionable, but actually drive much of the biotech industry.

      Not making DNA sequences available is going to do more harm then good. Will be interesting how this turns out.

    •  publicly funded means (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RB in Pgh

      publicly accessible, in theory...
      there's a big stink being raised right now about a proposal pushing for all publicly funded research to be available for free within 6 months of being published. Sounds good to me, and I owe my soul to the NIH company sto'. Publishers hate the idea.

      I think the big issue with opening up the bird flu sequence database would be countries that are already leery of releasing data quickly. If the databases are even more open, China et al will be even less likely to release data quickly.

      Dealing with publish or perish could be a lot easier than dealing with Asian governments trying to avoid embarrassment or panic. Part of the  database could be an agreement among journal editors to give first dibs on publications to the people who actually submit the sequences. It might be tricky to implement it well, but it could end up being a further incentive to get stuff out there before you get scooped.

    •  I need (0+ / 0-)

      this tee-shirt!

  •  Put the DNA in the Public Domain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RB in Pgh

    The publicly-funded data should be publicly-accessible.  All of the battles over DNA patenting and hoarding should not impede a public health emergency.

  •  Tuna Fish and Powdered Milk Under Your Bed (5+ / 0-)

    I'm surprised this doesn't have a diary of its own.

    From Atrios:

    "Planning for a possible flu pandemic shouldn't be just a government task but should be a priority for all households and businesses, officials said at a statewide summit Friday.

    "When you go to the store and buy three cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "When you go to the store to buy some milk, pick up a box of powdered milk, put it under the bed. When you do that for a period of four to six months, you are going to have a couple of weeks of food. And that's what we're talking about."

    This is what our tax dollars are paying for. At first I thought this was a satire piece from The Onion.

    •  Which Brand?? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arbiter

          Bumble Bee? Chicken of the Sea? Star-Kist?

          Actually, it occurred to me that drowning Mike Leavitt in a bathtub might accomplish more than stocking up on cans of fucking tuna fish.

      Y'know, Nietzsche says out of chaos comes order -- Howard Johnson

      by angry blue planet on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:55:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rumsfeld and Tamiflu (3+ / 0-)

    I don't understand how the blog post you linked to debunks the argument that Donald Rumsfeld stands to profit mightily from a multi-national buy of Tamiflu for stockpiles in the event that Avian Flu becomes a human pandemic in a form that is treatable by this anti-viral medication.

    In fact, I linked to the Independent Online article mentioned in the blog post and read it in its entirety.

    I also pulled up a USA Today item from March 1 on Tamiflu and the U.S.

    The Independent Online says

    The drug was developed by a Californian biotech company, Gilead Sciences. It is now made and sold by the giant chemical company Roche, which pays it a royalty on every tablet sold, currently about a fifth of its price.

    Mr Rumsfeld was on the board of Gilead from 1988 to 2001, and was its chairman from 1997. He then left to join the Bush administration, but retained a huge shareholding .

    The firm made a loss in 2003, the year before concern about bird flu started. Then revenues from Tamiflu almost quadrupled, to $44.6m, helping put the company well into the black. Sales almost quadrupled again, to $161.6m last year. During this time the share price trebled.

    Mr Rumsfeld sold some of his Gilead shares in 2004 reaping - according to the financial disclosure report he is required to make each year - capital gains of more than $5m. The report showed that he still had up to $25m-worth of shares at the end of 2004, and at least one analyst believes his stake has grown well beyond that figure, as the share price has soared. Further details are not likely to become known, however, until Mr Rumsfeld makes his next disclosure in May.

    and USAToday says this

    The government is buying more Tamiflu, a drug that can lessen the severity of bird flu, for the nation's stockpile.

    Already on hand is enough of the drug to treat about 5 million people. On Wednesday, the government ordered from the manufacturer enough to treat 12.4 million more.

    That's still well shy of the Bush administration's ultimate goal of stockpiling enough medication to treat a quarter of the U.S. population â€" a plan that depends heavily on states eventually buying up the drug, too, with their own money.

    These are facts, not speculation or inference.

    I heard Mike Leavitt (Health and Human Services) say today in a press conference covered by CSPAN that he wants a stockpile on hand for 25% of the population.

    That's a lot of money that Rumsfeld (and friends) stand to make here in American and abroad over the fear being generated internationally over this disease.

    Speaking of facts, are you making money off the website (Flu Wiki) you keep promoting here on DailyKos?

    Full disclosure always adds credibility to an information source.

    "I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror." - SLAVOJ ZIZEK

    by Patricia Taylor on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:02:08 AM PST

    •  no money made off Flu Wiki (6+ / 0-)
      there's no advertising and it's supported out of pocket.

      I'm not saying Rumsfeld isn't making money. I'm saying it has nothingto do with what's going on in Europe, Africa and Asia. Nor do U.S. and international scientists give a shit about how much white male republicans make (they're all rich - so what?).

      Nor does the virus care.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:20:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're part of the conspiracy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caldonia

        Don't deny it.

        God damn, but I wish we still had the 0 - 4 rating system, because that jab (pun intended) at you re: the Flu Wiki deserves a 1 rating.


        Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish.

        by Page van der Linden on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:52:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the author of the comment (0+ / 0-)

          seems satisfied with my response and gave me as (+). To the best of my knowledge, I have no relationship with any pharma company nor Rummy.

          Flu Wiki is an independent public service site.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:55:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And that would have achieved what, exactly? (0+ / 0-)

          I think it's a very good thing that DK no longer encourages people to scan every post looking for impure thoughts or expressions.

  •  Academic pride my arse (4+ / 0-)

    The research industry isn't keeping data private because of "pride."  It keeps data private because there are billions of dollars to be made.

    Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing you run into when you let the (ahem, let's pretend for a minute) "free market" regulate the health of your citizenry.

  •  I'm so naive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HiBob

    I just assumed that any scientist working within the public health system was, you know, working in the PUBLIC health system. It would seem obvious to me that when you're working on a potential pandemic, you share.

    Thanks for finding an actual and concrete action item on this one, Dem. It's good to be able to do something about it.

    "I have a philosophy about elections. I believe issues divide and values unite."--Gov. Brian Schweitzer

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:03:23 AM PST

  •  You make it sound like the US gov't WANTS to help (0+ / 0-)

    Who will die, mostly, in a pandemic?

    Which group of people does not have ready access to healthcare?

    What group of citizens is most draining on our ability to grow the defense budget and also the largest barrier to privatizing everything else?

    The same people; the poor.

    And you think the US gov't actually wants to prevent a pandemic?

    Col. Andy Tanner: "All that hate is gonna burn you up kid."
    Robert Morris: "It keeps me warm."

    by Wolverines on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:09:51 AM PST

    •  Actually no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rob Humenik, HiBob

      Influzenza virus does not know if you are rich or poor.

      If there were really a pandemic that kiled or made ill millions, we would all be pretty much equally at risk. There may be a marginal benefit if you have access to certain medical care, but the system would theoretically be so over-stressed, that most rich could not by better care, even if that were possible.

      Indeed, the cost to the economy would hit the rich as much or more than the poor. I think this is why the US government might actually care about this.

    •  The 1918 pandemic (0+ / 0-)

      strain had an unusal pathology that made it particularly lethal for 25-35 yr olds.  Ouch.  I haven't researched the recent H1N1 human cases, though 97 may not give us a clear picture.

      Influenza isn't biased, its just looking to survive.  It would care not to kill its host, but this strain isnt used to humans... and its more our body's fault as it is usually the immune response (i.e. "Flu-like symptoms") that causes fatalities in influenza cases.

  •  I'm confused; what can't be found? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor, TalkieToaster

    It's very easy to do a BLAST search on NCBI and find over 4000 sequences for H5N1.  The most recent ones are for France and Astrakan (2005).  It doesn't get much fresher than that.  It's not really my area but what is being left out?  

    -3.63, -4.46 "Choose something like a star to stay your mind on- and be staid"

    by goldberry on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:28:39 AM PST

    •  Indonesia, Turkey, and China and Azerbaijan (2006) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RB in Pgh
      and Iraq and anything that winds up being tested in Mill Hill, UK.

      France has been very good about it, and now Italy as well. The only way to follow whether the virus is mutating towards higher mammalian receptoir affinity is to have them all.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:23:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        riverlover

        ...as far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be a problem at our end of things.  It looks like we make sequences available to the public pretty contemporaneously to when they are discovered.  Maybe I am misreading this diary but it seems to imply that the reason the missing sequences are unavailable is somehow Bush's fault.  Bush is responsible for a lot of nasty attacks on science but so far, BLAST has somehow fallen under his radar.  I'm not sure we want to call attention to this area in case he feels he's been neglecting his duties to quash scientific collaboration whenever it appears.  

        -3.63, -4.46 "Choose something like a star to stay your mind on- and be staid"

        by goldberry on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 01:39:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  we do not make things available (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RB in Pgh

          CDC has been hoarding sequences. reread the branswell piece I linked.

          A spokesperson for the CDC said that agency â€" one of the world's pre-eminent centres for influenza research â€" wants to work toward a solution that would allow more open and rapid sharing of data.

          "We're committed to trying to continue to work on this very issue. We totally understand the importance of quickly sharing this information, especially when it could benefit public health," Tom Skinner says.

          "We also appreciate the complexity of the issues involved in coming up with a system that takes into account the balances of posting as quickly as possible, working with the host nations where these isolates come from, taking into consideration the importance of scientists being able to publish in peer review journals.

          "There are a lot of issues that have to be worked through to come up with a system that is best for everyone involved."

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 01:59:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And you can bet that (0+ / 0-)

    when the sequences are released they will be hungrily gobbled by drug companies who will turn them into patented drugs, so we paid for the research (public funds) and have to pay again for the drugs under monopoly conditions.  We need to do something about that too.

  •  This often occurs... (0+ / 0-)

    in many facets of science.  But, I think it is a bit more important to take note of when it involves a potential pandemic solution.  I know that there are many scientists out there that are very mindful of who sees their research, and who helps them on that research.  

    I think that the issue wouldn't be so intense if there wasn't such pressure in getting grants.  I feel like if there was more money in science, these types of conflicts would decrease.  On the whole, scientists want to help solve social and scientific issues, but if it was between collaborating or feeding your family, what would it be?

    •  I have great respect for the scientists (0+ / 0-)
      Nonetheless, this can't be business as usual. I'm a  believer in the Open Access movement. The ones fighting it are the journal publishers, not so much  the scientists.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:30:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  rerminds me of 'and the band played on' (0+ / 0-)

    That movie gave me an idea of what must go on behind the scenes of public health science.  I got the feeeling this type of behavior wasn't limited to HIV and Dr. Gallo. Free the sequences indeed!

    Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1984!

    by the fan man on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 11:53:09 AM PST

  •  Bumbper Stickers: 'Free the H5N1 Sequences' N/T (0+ / 0-)
  •  Zamiska . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester

    Is an excellent reporter.  Why does the WSJ have good reporters and news pages and a pathologically insane editorial page?  And why does the NYT have a good editorial page (much of the time) and so many whore reporters?

    Just one of those curious facts of nature . . .

    •  what a great question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RB in Pgh
      I meantion Zamiska and Branswell by name because of my high regard for them.

      But imagine the NY Times and editorial mixed with WSJ news.

      We alreadyt have the NY Times news mixed with WSJ editorial. it's called the washington Times.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:32:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nicholas Wade at NY Times (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv

      is an outstanding science reporter. The best I have read or been interviewed by.

      Maybe you do not like NY Times political reporters, but for science, and I think most health issues, they are very, very good.

  •  Market Research (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor

    The tension between publishing early in the interests of scientific community work vs scientific secrecy for personal reward is ancient. What is new is the overbalance towards personal financial gain for scientists, and loss of their jobs when they don't "produce".

    Much more of science in the past was performed by public universities which released their results to the public (even through obscure peer reviewed journals), without requiring revenue be generated. Universities and other "public" institutions still suck up even more public money to fund research. But now much more of their work is "proprietary": property of the institution. To be patented or otherwise turned into a product for revenue. While risks are covered by the public, when they're engaged at all.

    That system, especially once people enter science for profit rather than primarily intellectual rewards, of course produces a different kind of competition among scientists. Rather than measuring success in accurately describing nature in collaboration with any other scientists who can help, it's measured only in profits, raises, bonuses and killing the competition. Even when human lives are on the line.

  •  what does Bush have to do with this? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think Bush has anything to do with this problem.  So the line "And George W Bush's NIH and CDC may be part of the problem", is a little troubling for me.  

    I have no problem going after Bush on his F-ups, but I don't want to be part of the bash Bush crowd (in spite of the "facts according to O'Reilly & etc" that that's all liberals are into.)  

    So unless I am missing the connection, I would suggest changing that line.

    (Unrelated point: this new comment thing is sweet!)

    •  you are missing the connection (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hester

      though I wasn't explicit.

      This administration is not transparent. it is not in their nature. its appointees to the Directorships are in a position to free the sequences. They are political appointees, not careerists.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:26:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Suprised no one mentioned (0+ / 0-)

    the terrorists!  Free access to sequances means free access to a highly contagious and dangerous disease.

    Personaly I'd say if a terrorist organization is building bio-weapons that advanced, we've got bigger problems.  There's seriously no reason to hide sequances that could be used to help find cures and vaccines.

    Of course, then someone might do something horrifying like cure the common cold..

  •  Metaphor (0+ / 0-)

    All a metaphor for Bushes incompetent, yet effective evil! Death is the victor in his championship crown!

    FIVE THOUSAND MILLIGRAMS

    Poetic Justice-Don't burn the flag! Wash it!

    by prime63 on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:25:55 PM PST

  •  In addition: Scientists (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RB in Pgh, Overseas

    are predicting that the flu will hit the US within 6 months. Currently,  the hospitals are woefully short of the respirators they will need to keep people alive, but do not have the funds to order them. Sounds like Katrina all over again, only with more potential victims, more advance warning, more knowledge and more ineptitude from our gov't. The gov't should order these scientists to release all the relevant (and related) data. What a decrepit bunch we have running the gov't. They are truly depraved.

    •  Actually, scientists are predicting (0+ / 0-)

      avian influenza to enter the avian population within the year. And we won't know what birds will be most susceptible til that happens.

      •  ABC is publishing which birds (0+ / 0-)
        All waterfowl...

        Pacific Golden Plover
        Northern Pintail Duck
        Bar-tailed Godwit
        Emperor Goose
        Dunlin (I think this is a tern)
        Black Brant Duck

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 05:41:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nature 9/22/05 CDC Hoarding sequences (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.connotea.org/...

    written by Declan Butler - something of a heavy hitter in science journalism

    more info if you need it

    Austin American Statesman  10/3/05

    Rebecca Carr
  •  Gene Databases....a little more info (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, JeremyThenSaid

    As someone who has a wee bit of knowledge about these databases, there is something that should be understood about them.  They are merely collections of gene sequences that people derive in their laboratories....there's no insinutation of accuracy other than the honor system.  Think Wikipedia without the ability to check sources.  As a result, some/many/whatever percentage of the sequence data in them is subject to question.  Therefore, the usefulness of these databases could be being overestimated.

    •  very true... they're not perfect (0+ / 0-)

      but time and repetiton should weed out mistakes. it's not like having the correct sequences makes the problem of H5N1 go away, either.

      But the idea that they are not useful certainly isn't true. And the ability to look for specific predicted sequences, or matching with the 1918 H1N1 or other pandemic viruses, in search of clues for virulence should not be underestimated.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Mar 13, 2006 at 12:59:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hi DemFromCT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT

    I'm sure you know how I feel by now...  I'll spare you the details :)

  •  Read Broad and Wades' 'Betrayers of the Truth' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RB in Pgh

    The book is a little dated.  In 1983, the prestigious journal "Science" gave it a good review.

    The book lays out how the vocation of Science has been corrupted by rampant careerism.  It explains how the primary purpose of scientific research is not discovery, but publication.

    It is also a fascinating look at how some scientists have cheated....even Nobel Laureates.

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