Indonesia claims wide support for virus-sharing stance

first_imgMay 27, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia’s health minister asserted yesterday that 112 other nations at a meeting in Geneva last week expressed support for her country’s position on avian influenza virus sharing, according to an Indonesian newspaper.At a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, Siti Fadilah Supari said support for Indonesia’s sample-sharing proposals came on May 21 at a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) health ministers meeting, which was held alongside the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting in Geneva, the Jakarta Post reported today. The NAM, founded in 1955, is an organization of countries that consider themselves not aligned with or against any superpower. Supari said representatives of 112 countries at the NAM health ministers meeting supported Indonesia’s demands.”We received moral and political support from health ministers from England, Russia, Iran, and Australia,” Supari said, according to the Post report. The NAM Web site does not list England or Australia among its 118 member countries.In early 2007, Indonesia announced it had stopped sharing H5N1 influenza virus samples with the WHO out of concern that developing countries that share such samples will not have access to vaccines that drug companies in rich countries may produce from the samples. The country has shared only a few samples since then. It has pushed for new virus-sharing policies that it considers more transparent and fair to it and other developing nations.Supari continues talks with USDuring the WHO’s annual World Health Assembly, Supari urged world health officials to replace the WHO’s virus-sharing system, saying it favors developed nations, the Post reported. Also during the meeting, she met with US Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to discuss possible solutions to the virus-sharing impasse, in a continuation of talks that had begun in April.Leavitt mentioned the latest talks at a May 19 press conference in Geneva. “Actually, not a great deal changed as a result of our meeting today,” he told reporters, according to a transcript published on the US State Department Web site.He emphasized that the United States wants to help forge needed improvements in the sample-sharing system. “What we aren’t willing, of course, to do is engage in any system that would involve compensation for virus samples,” he said. “This is a 60-year-old tradition. That’s one of the greatest public health successes in history.”A progress report on multilateral efforts to settle the sample-sharing issue, including ideas raised at the World Health Assembly, is expected in July, Leavitt said. A WHO working group dedicated to solving the problem, which has met several times, will meet again in November. “And we’re hopeful that by November of this year we’ll have a protocol under which that [virus sharing] can be done,” Leavitt said.In a recent book, Supari accused the United States of planning to make a biological weapon out of the H5N1 virus and charged that the United States and the WHO have conspired to profit from H5N1 vaccines.Genetic data to be shared Indonesia recently announced it would begin sharing H5N1 viral sequences with a new public database, the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), which was formed by a group of 70 scientists and health officials to promote greater sharing of H5N1 sequences.GISAID has said the public can freely access the database, which includes both human and animal H5N1 sequences, after they register and agree to share and credit the use of others’ data, analyze findings jointly, publish results collaboratively, and refrain from pressing intellectual property rights issues that relate to diagnostic, drug, and vaccine developments.Experts have praised the new development, but some have said that having actual H5N1 isolates is more useful because they are needed to make seed strains for vaccines and are critical for determining antigenicity, transmissibility, and pathogenicity.See also:Apr 17 CIDRAP News story “HHS secretary blogs on impasse with Indonesia”May 19 CIDRAP News story “Experts welcome Indonesia’s vow to share H5N1 data”last_img read more

Steelers in AFC North driver’s seat with 4 games left

first_imgVery rarely does a game live up to all the hype but the Steelers, Ravens game did plus some. The 13-10 Steelers victory was without a doubt one of the best games of the season, as the defenses dominated, as expected. Troy Polamalu was once again a key factor in the victory after being responsible for the Ravens’ lone touchdown on a miscalculation that led to Anquan Boldin scoring. He gambled and rushed the passer leaving no deep protection and Boldin burned Bryant McFadden before Ryan Clark could get across field. But he made up for this play late in the game by knocking the ball out of quarterback Joe Flacco’s hands on a safety blitz which led to the sack and fumble. It was a surprise blitz which this time did catch Flacco by surprise, as Polamalu got to the quarterback before he could release the ball. LaMarr Woodley scooped the ball up and ran it 19 yards to the 9 yard line. “It was an all-out blitz. They brought everybody,” Flacco said. “I took three steps and raised my arm and was getting hit. It was pretty shocking.”“Everybody watching TV at home, everybody in the stadium, you all know if you see 43 at the line, four-minute offense, he’s coming,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who gave the Steelers offensive line fits all night and had 1 1/2 sacks. “It was just like, I hope we have a plan. It just didn’t feel good when I saw that hair at the line.”“They are going to be happy on that airplane back to Pittsburgh. They have the ‘W,’” Suggs said. “In this league, that’s all. We lost, that’s all that matters.”Ben Roethlisberger and the offense responded by taking advantage of the great field position and scored their lone touchdown with 2:51 left in the game as Isaac Redman caught a short pass from Roethlisberger and ran around and through Ravens for the 9 yard score. Even though Baltimore had plenty of time left, the defense put the clamps on them to preserve the victory. Playing with a broken nose and sprained right foot, he went 22 for 38 for 253 yards. Roethlisberger has won six straight starts against Baltimore and is 8-2 against the Ravens.“Tough place to play, but let’s be frank, we needed to come here and even the score in this matchup,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Thankfully we did, and we’ll push on.”The victory puts the Steelers in the driver’s seat in the AFC North as they took sole possession of first place with just four games left. Three are at home versus the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers, before finishing out the season in Cleveland versus the improving Browns (5-7).After winning the division last season and Marvin Lewis being named the Coach of the Year, the Bengals have reverted back to their old ways of finding a way to lose, falling to the New Orleans Saints (9-3). Drew Brees threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston with 31 seconds left, rallying the Saints to their fifth consecutive victory, 34-30 over the self-destructive Bengals.The Saints trailed for the first time after newcomer Clint Stitser made a 47-yard field goal putting the Bengals ahead 30-27 with 4:25 to go…plenty of time for Brees to pull it out, with the help of yet another Bengals blunder. His 42-yarder to Robert Meacham drew New Orleans into field-goal range. On fourth-and-2 from the Cincinnati 7, the Saints lined up and tried to draw the Bengals offside. It worked. Bengals lineman Pat Sims jumped, giving the Saints a first down. Brees threw his second touchdown pass on the next play, sending Cincinnati (2-10) to its ninth consecutive loss.The Bengals picked up Terrell Owens to boost their offense, and it has, but the problem is that their defense can’t stop anyone. The lowly Buffalo Bills scored 48 points on them with just about everyone they’ve faced scoring 30 or more points. Owens and Chad Ochocinco had outstanding games against the Saints. Owens had 6 catches for 47 yards and Ochocinco had 5 catches for 96 yards, but it wasn’t enough.The Bengals always play the Steelers tough but they just don’t appear to have the defense this season to stop the Steelers or anyone else, and the chances of them scoring 30 plus points against the Steelers is not likely.After the Bengals, Pittsburgh has another big game against the Jets. Depending on what happens in the Monday Night battle with division rival New England, the Jets will either be fighting for the best record and home field advantage in the AFC or a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Both teams went into the game with the AFC best record (9-2) with the winner remaining one game ahead of the Steelers. Having lost to the Patriots, Pittsburgh could become the number one seed if the Jets beat the Patriots and they beat the Jets.Since the Steelers have played at the level of their opponents this season, Cincinnati 2-10, Carolina 1-11 and Cleveland 5-7 may appear to be easy wins, but not necessarily. Pittsburgh needs to go either 3-1 or 4-0 to assure themselves of a playoff spot and possibly the home field advantage, because the likelihood of Baltimore losing again is slim.Punter Daniel Sepulveda hurt his right knee in the second quarter, and placekicker Shaun Suisham was called upon to punt for the remainder of the game. Sepulveda has an ACL injury, Tomlin said, and likely is lost for the season.Rashard Mendenhall ran for 45 yards to break 1,000 for a second straight year. BLOOD AND GLORY—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) gets off a pass while being hit by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) during the first half Dec. 5, in Baltimore. “He is a heck of a player,” Roethlisberger said. “One time after a play, I looked at him and he was bleeding from the mouth. I was bleeding from the nose. That says it all about a Ravens-Steelers football game.”(AP Photo/Nick Wass) last_img read more