Indonesian health minister Siti Fadilah Supari Is refusing to share the H5N1 virus samples, before there is a “material transfer agreement with the WHO”.
She said that Indonesian Government is worried that large drug companies will use the Indonesian H5N1 strain samples, sent by WHO affiliated laboratories to confirm human infections, to make vaccines that will ultimately be unaffordable for developing nations.
Last month senior WHO officials travelled to Jakarta to meet with Supari on the issue. At the time the health minister agreed that on an interim basis Indonesia would share sample viruses so that the WHO’s reference laboratories could track how the H5N1 virus is changing.
Here is more:
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia will not share bird flu samples with the World Health Organization without a legally binding agreement promising the virus won’t be used to develop an expensive commercial vaccine, the health minister said Tuesday. Siti Fadilah Supari, digging her heels in following a weekslong standoff with the global body, said a letter of guarantee from WHO’s director general Margaret Chan late last month was not good enough. “We will not share the virus before there is a Material Transfer Agreement,” she told reporters, adding that she hoped one would be drafted during a bird flu meeting in Jakarta in late March between Asia Pacific health leaders and WHO. Several countries are developing vaccines to protect against H5N1, the bird flu virus strain blamed for 167 human deaths worldwide – more than a third of them in Indonesia.
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