High-risk pathogen research
Clinical work and scientificstudies on pathogens, or disease-causing biological agents, are important for public health, biomedical advances, and disease prevention. Some of these activities, however,pose significant risks.
Work with high-risk pathogens carries substantive safety risks
to laboratory workers, the wider society, and the environment. A lab worker may be accidentally infected by a pathogen, causing disease in the individual, and potentially
also in other lab workers, family members, and the wider community. A pathogen may also be accidentally released directly into the environment through a lab containment breach, leading to potential spread of
disease in the community.
Key security risks include pathogens or other related material being stolen from a laboratory, and lab insiders using their knowledge, skills, and access for malevolent purposes. Thereis also a risk that scientific knowledgeand methods used by lab workers to understand and manipulate biological and epidemiological properties of pathogens for public health purposes is repurposed by others to cause harm.