Stronger oversight of virus experiments urged


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Advisers to the National Institutes of Health are calling for tighter oversight of experiments involving potentially harmful viruses. “The external advisers urge the government to broaden its definition of the kinds of experiments that require special reviews and safety measures,” my colleague Joel Achenbach reports.

Current safety protocols apply only to research using pathogens that are highly likely to kill or severely sicken an individual. But the advisers on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity say such policies should also extend to less virulent pathogens if they are capable of “wide and uncontrollable spread.” Such broader oversight would apply to experiments with a virus like SARS-CoV-2, which is not usually lethal for individuals but is extraordinarily transmissible. 

But some panel members expressed concern that more red tape would hamper research. The group’s recommendation is not expected for months, after which top federal officials will decide on the policies, according to Achenbach.

New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced he was ending the coronavirus vaccine mandate for private employers as of Nov. 1, but would keep it in place for city employees. “Our vaccinated workforce kept the city open and operating, with over 300,000 employees; it was crucial to put it in place, and we are keeping that in place,” Adams said during a news conference Tuesday. 

The mayor, who has steadily rolled back covid-19 mandates, also announced plans to launch a campaign to promote coronavirus boosters and other vaccinations this fall. “It will remain in the rearview mirror if we do the right things,” he said of the pandemic, “and boostering and getting our bodies prepared is one of those important things.” 

Adams also ended a vaccine mandate for students involved in extracurricular activities, my colleague Bryan Pietsch reports.

In New York City, the daily death rate from covid has fallen sharply, and 89 percent of the city’s residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Other important news

A report issued by the inspector general for the Labor Department identified $45 billion in potential unemployment fraud during the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration is releasing 10 million Moderna coronavirus boosters that had been delayed amid an FDA inspection of an Indiana packaging plant.

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