- "On 16 February, Ilaria Capua of the Istituto Zooprofilattico
Sperimentale delle Venezie in Italy asked more than 50 colleagues around
the world to release all sequence data for the H5N1 avian influenza strain
into the public domain. Comparing sequence data from every H5N1 isolate
as soon as they become available is crucial for understanding how the virus
moves and evolves, Capua argues."
- H5N1 has been rapidly moving and evolving, and Ilaria
Capua is to be commended for her call to release the data, as noted in
the comments above from today's news in Science. The Science article
goes on to describe the private sequence database that is maintained by
WHO and passwrod accessible by 15 labs worldwide.
- Although this database has the most current H5N1 sequence
data, the WHO analysis of the data leaves much to be desired. WHO
repeated states that H5N1 evolves via random mutation, and such mutations
are not predictable. However many Recombinomics commentaries have
cited clear cut examples of recombination.
- The number of examples were expanded today when GenBank
released data on H5N1 isolates from China. The sequences have not
been published, but researchers in Beijing released the 7 sets of 8 full
sequences under the title "A cohort of AIV H5N1 subtypes isolated
from wild aquatic birds and domestic poultry revealed rapid transmission,
frequent reassortment, and identifiable recombination events"
- A/wild duck/Guandong/314/2004(H5N1)
- The sequences have clear examples of recombination which
WHO and consultants refuse to acknowledge, even when their sequences have
obvious recombination. In several instances the recombination is
not as obvious because regions where recombination is expected are not
submitted. These partial submissions raise serious questions about
the omitted data.
- In addition to the questions that arise from partial
sequences, the withholding of completed sequences is cause for concern.
Russia, Italy, France and Germany have recently submitted sequences shortly
after completion and prior to publication. The China sequences showing
recombination were also released prior to publication. Analysis of
these sequences show rapid evolution via recombination, which WHO and consultants
fail to acknowledge. The sequences also show origins of the newly
acquired polymorphisms, which lead to past and future spread of H5N1 via
migratory birds. The sequences identify human and American sequences
in the Qinghai strain of H5N1 isolated in Astrakhan, and can been use to
correctly predict future recombinations, such as the S227N acquisition
in Turkey, or the possible G228S acquisition in Europe.
- In Europe many of the new sequences have been generated
at Weybridge, which has placed a hold on release until publication.
This, could take weeks or months since the papers with the sequences
have not been submitted. Similarly, there are no human H5N1 sequences
available from Indonesia, although WHO consultants in Hong Kong had the
data months ago. In the Science paper, Yi Guan said he would consider
release if WHO changed its policy.
- In many instances the sequences were generated with public
funds used to collect samples from patients or animals. Public Health
labs also frequently do the sequencing.
- The hoarding of these sequences by WHO is hazardous to
the world's health, and these sequences should be made public immediately.
- © 2006 Recombinomics. All rights reserved.