Debates on high-risk virology research

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Here is a reading list about the debate surrounding the risks and potential benefits of two types of risky virology research: 1. Gain-of-function (GOF) research, which aims to increase the host range, transmissibility, infectivity or pathogenicity of potential pandemic pathogens, and 2. Virus hunting, which seeks to sample, identify and study emerging diseases in remote corners of the world.

This list is a work in progress. If you have suggestions for other readings that should be on this page, please send them to us via email at [email protected].

[Debates on gain-of-function research]

The New York Times. U.S. Tightens Rules on Risky Virus Research. By Carl Zimmer and Benjamin Mueller. May 7, 2024.

The Free Press. Is Gain-of-Function Research a ‘Risk Worth Taking’? Or ‘Insanity’?. By David Zweig. March 7, 2023.

The Hill. To prevent a deadlier pandemic, pause gain of function research. By Marc Siegel and Robert Redfield. February 2, 2023.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. HHS Could Improve Oversight of Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens. January 18, 2023.

New York Times. A Plea for Making Virus Research Safer. By Jesse Bloom. October 30, 2022.

Science. Making Trouble: The United States is moving to tighten oversight of studies that could make viruses more dangerous. But how far should it go? By Jocelyn Kaiser. October 19, 2022.

Nature. COVID prompts global surge in labs that handle dangerous pathogens. By Smriti Mallapaty. October 11, 2022.

Science Insider. Spurred by pandemic, U.S. government will revisit federal policies on risky virus research. By Jocelyn Kaiser. March 1, 2022.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Creating dangerous viruses in the lab is a bad way to guard against future pandemics. Laura H. Kahn. November 19, 2021.

Financial Times.Genetic engineering: why some fear the next pandemic could be lab-made. Kiran Stacey and Izabella Kaminska, November 17, 2021.

Forbes. Leave The Bats Alone: It’s Long Past Time To Halt Gain-Of-Function Research On Deadly Viruses. By Steven Salzberg. October 11, 2021.

Washington Post. Manipulating viruses and risking pandemics is too dangerous. It’s time to stop. Kevin Esvelt. October 6, 2021.

Washington Post.A science in the shadows:Controls on ‘gain of function’ experimentswith supercharged pathogens have beenundercut despite concerns about lab leaks. By David Willman and Madison Muller. August 26, 2021.

The Hill. An economist’s perspective on ‘gain-of-function’ virus research. Scott Sumner. July 8, 2021.

Washington Post. Opinion: The world still hasn’t figured out how to regulate research into deadly viruses. Brian Klaas. March 11, 2021.

The National Academies Press. Potential risks and benefits of gain-of-function research: summary of a workshop. 2015.

Forbes. Should we allow scientists to create dangerous super-viruses? Steven Salzberg. October 20, 2014.

The Cambridge Working Group. Cambridge Working Group consensus statement on the creation of potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs). July 14, 2014.

mBio. Can limited scientific value of potential pandemic pathogen experiments justify the risks? Marc Lipsitch. October 14, 2014. doi:

PLoS Medicine. Ethical alternatives to experiments with novel potential pandemic pathogens. Marc Lipsitch and Alison Galvani. 2014. 11(5): e1001646. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001646

mBio. Research on Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza Virus: The Way Forward. Anthony S. Fauci. September-October 2012, 3(5): e00359-12. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00359-12

[Debates on virus hunting]

The Washington Post. Research with exotic viruses risks a deadly outbreak, scientists warn. By David Willman and Joby Warrick. April 10, 2023.

Forbes. The US Is Funding a Massive Virus Hunt That Might Cause Another Pandemic. Great Idea! By Steven Salzberg. July 5, 2022.

The Intercept. Infection of Wildlife Biologist Highlights Risks of Virus Hunting. By Sharon Lerner. July 2, 2022.

Vox. Can we stop the next pandemic by seeking out deadly viruses in the wild? By Kelsey Piper. May 7, 2022.

The Intercept. The virus hunters: how pursuit of unknown viruses risks triggering the next pandemic. Sharon Lerner. December 28, 2021.


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