Friday, November 9, 2007

Migrating Bird Flu Samples

"The Jakarta Post" reports that Indonesian officials are demanding that the WHO return the 58 avain flu samples isolated from patients in that country. These leaders complain that the WHO sample sharing model is unfair. Currently the WHO has authority to send specimens to any of its member countries without requesting permission from the source country. Since August Indonesia has been requesting the samples' return so that their scientists can begin work on a vaccine, yet they have still not received them. Meanwhile the samples could be available for free to other research communities, gearing up for a possible epidemic. The vaccines developed from such initiatives would then be offered, at a cost, to Indonesia. For the country with the highest bird flu-related deaths thus far, these realities carry costly and grave implications.

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