Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More and safer biomedical research labs in Africa

The Economist has an article calling for better assurance that African laboratories working with human pathogens will not allow them into the hands of bio-terrorists. The article, while pointing to a real problem, suggests that we should not be too concerned in that "weaponizing" pathogens is difficult. I think the article is simply wrong in that one need not weaponize a disease agent, but simply infect people as they get on airlines with highly communicable diseases and let nature take its course.

I would suggest that it is more important to strengthen biomedical research labs in Africa in order that they do a better job in fighting disease in Africa. Infectious diseases there kill millions of people per year. In strengthening those labs, of course one would want to assure that they were safe. The safety of research personnel and the safety of the neighbors of the labs should be assured.

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