March 1, 2008


Indonesia Sends WHO First H5N1 Samples in Months


chicken in a basketFor the first time in at least six months, Indonesia has submitted H5N1 influenza virus samples to the World Health Organization (WHO) for analysis.

The two samples are from patients whose cases WHO confirmed in February. Both were from the suburbs of Jakarta. One died of the infection; the other was hospitalized after her mother died of H5N1 influenza.

Indonesia stopped sending samples because of concerns that any vaccine produced from them by Western pharmaceutical companies would be too expensive for low-income countries like Indonesia to afford. Meetings between officials from WHO and Indonesia on virus-sharing policy have not yet produced an agreement.

Indonesia’s health minister says the samples are for evaluation only and may not be used for vaccine production without Indonesia’s permission.

It is unclear whether Indonesia will continue sending influenza virus samples for analysis.

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