Where can you safely work with avian H5N1 influenza? The debate over H5N1 continues, and this week we present two Commentaries that can help stimulate an honest discussion about the most appropriate place to carry out research on newly developed strains. As Arturo Casadevall and Tom Shenk point out in an accompanying editorial, the decision about where to house H5N1 research has profound implications for society and poses an explicit trade-off between safety and preparedness for future outbreaks.
The Commentaries by Michale Imperiale and Michael Hanna and by Adolfo Garcia-Sastre offer opposing views of the appropriate level of security for dealing with H5N1 viruses. The authors agree that, with a case fatality rate as high as 50% or more, H5N1 could create a pandemic of disastrous proportions, but they differ in their opinions of how to strike a balance between biosecurity and effective research.