A group of researchers is urging the US government to keep the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) off a restricted list of 'select agents'. Laboratories researching such material must be registered, adopt elaborate security measures and undergo Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks.
The 13-strong group includes scientists at the forefront of efforts to tackle last year's SARS epidemic. They voiced their concern in a letter to the committee that advises the US government about which substances should go on the list.
Coronavirus expert Kathryn Holmes, who heads the group, says that adding SARS to the list could slow the pace of research and the development of drugs and vaccines, as well as isolate US researchers.
Reference: Science 304, 1726 (2004)