Scientists told not to share deadly virus info
>>> we mentioned this earlier and we're back with an update on a scary possibility. the most dangerous virus possible, the government panel telling them not to share the details of it with the rest of the world. our report tonight from robert bazell.
>> reporter: one doctor explained why he created the virus. he took bird flu which seldom infects people and make it highly contagious in ferrets a model for human contagion. few people would have immunity, and it would kill 60% of those it affected, creating a horrible pandemic.
>> it's the most dangerous flu virus that's ever been created in the world.
>> reporter: a panel that advises the u.s. government took the step to ask two journals to remove the research from the paper, taking out critical details sony can't fall into the handses of terrorists.
>> i wish the work hadn't been done to begin with, but now that we're here, it makes the most sense. they did not consider how the research would be published. they say this is a lesson learned.
>> we'll be taking a closer look at what would happen if scenario a or b came about.
>> the journal's plan to publish the redacted versions in the next few months. this is one of the instances where scientific research open to all meets concerns about terrorism. robert bazell, nbc news, new york.
Deadly flu virus created in the lab
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Back now with a story that got our attention today. Scientists have created a flu virus on purpose, in the lab, that could potentially kill a lot of people, and now a big fight is about to erupt over how much to reveal to the wider world about it. We get more tonight from our chief science correspondent, Robert Bazell.
ROBERT BAZELL reporting: Starting with the virus that causes bird flu, two scientists have created a highly contagious version in the laboratory that one calls probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make. A government committee is now deciding on how much detail scientific journals should reveal when they publish the studies, and the controversial decision is due soon. But some top scientists think the entire project is wrong.
Dr. THOMAS INGLESBY (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center): I think it's a bad idea for us to take a lethal virus and transform it into a highly transmissible one, and I think it's a second bad idea to publish the results so others can replicate it.
BAZELL: Bird flu, called H5N1, first jumped from chickens to humans in Hong Kong in 1998 and was deadly, killing about 60 percent of the people it infected. The city stopped the '98 outbreak by killing all chickens, and since then periodic outbreaks have occurred in Southeast Asia, but the virus has never been very contagious, infecting only a few people at a time. The two scientists, one in Europe and the other at the University of Wisconsin, genetically altered wild bird flu so it could easily be transmitted from person to person. They proved this using ferrets, which transmit flu like humans. They submitted their results to two top journals, Science and Nature. The scientists did this to see what would have to happen in nature to make a pandemic. But others say it could be a cookbook for terrorists. A government panel will soon make those recommendations, Brian, but it's not certain the journals wills follow them.
WILLIAMS: It's all scary stuff. Bob Bazell, thanks, as always. And