Expert panel backs restrictions on risky virus research
The recommendations come at a time of heightened scrutiny for such experimentation.
The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity on Friday unanimously approved draft recommendations that would tighten federal restrictions on experiments with potentially deadly viruses.
"We have a lot of oversight on paper, but not really a lot of oversight," panel member Dr. Kenneth Bernard said, according to the New York Times.
The new proposals ask the government to expand oversight to cover virus that present lower risk and to end oversight exemptions on search connected to vaccine development, the outlet noted.
The recommendations come at a time of heightened scrutiny for such experimentation. An October minority Senate report outlined "substantial evidence" that the COVID-19 pandemic may originated as the result of a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese lab known to have been studying coronaviruses.
The vote further comes in the immediate aftermath of the release of a Project Veritas video in which a Pfizer executive appeared to confirm that the company was seeking to experiment with COVID-19 and preemptively develop vaccines for mutations of the virus that are not yet in circulation.
The video has prompted public outcry and congressional inquiry, with Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio writing to Pfizer President and CEO Albert Bourla, demanding that the account for the content of the video and explain the company's research plans with regards to COVID-19.