The New York Times, March 15, 2006

Secret Avian Flu Archive

New York Times Editorial

At a time when health authorities are racing to head off a possible avian flu pandemic, it is distressing to learn that the World Health Organization is operating a secret database that holds the virus's genetic information.

The rationale for the closed system is that the restrictions encourage scientists who are worried about being scooped by rivals to share their data on a limited basis even before they have published their findings in a journal. Confidentiality is also needed, some say, to encourage skittish countries, worried about bad publicity or the loss of intellectual property, to release the genetic sequences of viruses found on their territory. read more