Greg Koblentz, a member of the Scientists Working Group, was quoted in Nature.
Many at the listening session pushed for stricter oversight of risky-pathogen research, however. Some suggested that the HHS advisory-panel approach be extended to other US entities. Gregory Koblentz, a biosecurity-policy specialist at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, pointed out that pharmaceutical firms, philanthropic institutions and federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense, also conduct research on potentially risky pathogens. They should adhere to the same guidelines, he said.
The fact that policies governing ePPPs continue to be tweaked more than a decade after the controversial avian-influenza experiments shows that the issue is extremely nuanced, Koblentz told Nature. He acknowledges the “wonderful benefits” of risky pathogen research, especially with regard to fighting SARS-CoV-2, but he worries that researchers will become complacent about the inherent risk if stricter policies aren’t put in place — especially given that the number of laboratories equipped to handle dangerous pathogens is increasing worldwide.