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Indonesia says WHO fails to assure bird flu samples will not be used commercially

Indonesia says WHO fails to assure bird flu samples will not be used commercially

Indonesia's health minister has accused the World Health Organization of breaking its promise to assure that the country's bird flu samples would not be used commercially, dragging out a dispute about equal access to a future vaccine.
Siti Fadilah Supari said late Monday Indonesia was ready to resume the supply of specimens, but had postponed doing so after recent talks in Geneva with the world body on technical details "ended in deadlock."
"I am afraid to send (the samples) because we have not seen WHO's commitment assuring not to hurt us," Supari told The Associated Press.
Health officials from the nation hardest hit by bird flu say it's unfair for the WHO to simply hand over their H5N1 viruses to drug companies, arguing any vaccine produced from their specimens would likely be too expensive for the poor.
"The WHO did not show any good will," Supari said. "We are disappointed. They do whatever suits them."
The Indonesian government has reported 74 human deaths from bird flu since its first outbreak two years ago _ more than a third of the world's total. They stopped sending viruses in January, using the samples as leverage against a system they say caters to the developed world.
But in late March, Supari made a surprise statement at a high-level meeting with the WHO in Jakarta that she was ready to end the standoff. The WHO, in turn, promised not to share virus samples with vaccine companies without Indonesia's permission.
But four weeks later no samples have been sent.


Updated : 2021-05-13 13:29 GMT+08:00