Good news from CDC. Yesterday they announced immediate public release of some 650 influenza gene sequences. The new openness is part of a collaboration with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL):
Through the new collaboration, CDC expects to provide genetic information for several hundred influenza viruses per year as a way to encourage more research on influenza. The sequence data will be available in nearly real time through Genbank, a public-access library for virus sequences managed by the National Institutes of Health, and through an influenza database housed at Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL). The information added will include viruses from the annual flu season in the United States, any animal influenza viruses that infect humans and any novel strains that may emerge such as avian influenza H5N1. The new agreement will only apply to viruses isolated in the United States. (CDC Press Release)
CDC’s syas this ratifies its longstanding commitment to open sharing of influenza virus information. One might then ask how it happens to have 650 unreleased sequences, But I guess this is a time for positive reinforcement.
We note this new transparency relates only to viruses isolated within the US. CDC recently released sequencing they did on the Indonesian H5N1 viruses after that country publicly approved their release. CDC might also have other H5N1 sequences from Turkey or elsewhere that are of great interest to the international scientific community.
It would be good to see this new spirit of openness extended. The ice is breaking, but spring is not yet here.