What Is Gain Of Function Research, And Why Should It Be Banned?

April 17, 2023 | Source: Forbes | by Steven Salzberg

I’ve been writing about dangerous gain-of-function research on viruses for years, originally on the flu virus and more recently on the Covid-19 virus. Many people are deeply concerned about this research, which might have caused the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet there are still no real regulations controlling it, neither in the U.S. nor anywhere else.

I can already hear the objections: oh, but what about the new rules that NIH put in place in 2017, after a 3-year “pause” in some gain-of-function (GoF) research? Those rules were utterly ineffective, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Despite my arguments, and the concerns of many other scientists, which have been expressed in various forums and articles for at least a decade now, the virology community continues to insist that any limits on GoF are unnecessary, and that GoF is wonderfully beneficial. A group of 156 virologists even wrote an opinion piece, published in the Journal of Virology, making this very point.