Indonesia withholds bird flu sample

Health minister says she hopes an agreement will be drafted later in the month

    Indonesia worries drug companies will  make vaccines that developing nations cannot afford [EPA]

    Indonesia and the WHO have been in a standoff over the issue for a number of weeks with Supari saying that a letter of agreement signed by Margaret Chan, the WHO's director general, would not be sufficient.
    Last month Indonesia signed a deal with US-based Baxter Healthcare Corp to develop a human vaccine for the virus and the Indonesian government said it would only resume cooperation with the WHO if the body stopped providing samples to other commercial vaccine makers.
    Indonesia says it is worried that drug companies will use its bird flu samples, sent to WHO affiliated laboratories, to make vaccines that developing nations will not be able to afford.
    Several countries are developing vaccines to protect against H5N1, the strain of the virus blamed for 167 human deaths worldwide, more than a third of which were in Indonesia.
    The virus remains mainly an animal disease, but experts are concerned it may mutate into a form that easily spreads between humans, potentially killing millions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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