Laboratories around the globe increasingly are experimenting with emerging viruses, sometimes giving them new capabilities, as they seek to identify dangerous ones and find ways to combat them.
While the goal is to protect health, some of the projects carry the chance of a misstep that could unleash an epidemic, some scientists say.
Experiments in the U.S. are reviewed in advance by researchers’ institutions or government funders, but risky projects can go forward without being subjected to the highest level of scrutiny, especially in some other countries.
Some scientists and officials in the Biden administration are pushing for more oversight, globally, of risky bioresearch. One focus is laboratory work that enhances a pathogen or endows it with new properties—sometimes called “gain-of-function” research—which is often done to assess its potential to infect humans.
The administration, looking for ways to better weigh the potential benefits of such research against the risks, is considering ideas that include forming a new entity to address global biosecurity.
— WSJ Science (@WSJscience) September 24, 2021