Indonesia has the dubious honour of being the country with the largest number of human fatalities resulting from the H5N1 virus.
Siti Fadilah Supari
Indonesian Health Minister
Laboratories in various part of the world are working hard to develop one or more vaccines against the current strain of the Bird-Flu virus which has shown itself to be fatal not only to birds but also to humans.
Influenza vaccines have to be reformulated every year to match the circulating strains because the virus mutates often.
The world Health organisation has been coordinating the efforts of all of these Bio Labs and has received tissue samples from the persons who have died of the H5N1 virus, from all the effected countries.
All of the effected countries have provided the tissue samples accept from Indonesia.
Indonesia maintains that if it provided “Indonesia’s” tissue samples, then it should have some kind of proprietary rights over the vaccines that are developed from the said samples.
Indonesia has complained that poor nations would not be able to afford vaccines being developed, earlier this year refused to share virus samples with the WHO unless it had guarantees they would not be used commercially.
Over the last year, Indonesia has been haggling with the world community, via the WHO for the “value” of its tissue samples.
Time and again Indonesia agrees to send its tissue samples over to the WHO and then it reneges on its promise to do so.
“Indonesia has yet to provide usable samples of the H5N1 bird flu virus to the World Health Organisation, compromising international efforts to prepare for a pandemic”, a top WHO official said on Monday.
David Heymann, assistant director-general for communicable diseases at the U.N. agency, said the three specimens Jakarta sent in May, which came from two humans infected with the deadly influenza strain, contained fragments but no live virus.
While it later agreed to ship specimens under a deal with the Geneva-based agency meant to improve access to vaccines, Heymann said Indonesia had not shared any virus samples since the three unusable ones were shipped in May.
Indonesia is now the only country that has not shared samples of H5N1 that drugmakers can use to develop vaccines. Heymann said this raised global pandemic risks, given that vaccines now being developed cannot protect against the virus mutations that proved lethal there.
“Indonesia is aware of these issues and is working with WHO … to see how they can best begin sharing again,” he said. “We are hoping that that will begin fairly soon.”
In the mean time people from all over the world (more from Indonesia than any where else) are dying from this killer virus, while Indonesia “negotiates” with the WHO!
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