May 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”
Press Association Tony Pulis played down West Brom’s win over his former side Stoke – but insisted the Baggies should have scored more. Brown Ideye’s header – his seventh goal of the season – earned the hosts a deserved 1-0 win over the poor visitors. Ideye was denied a second by an offside call and referee Michael Oliver ignored huge claims for a penalty when Geoff Cameron felled Craig Dawson. He said: “Ben had come off with a knee problem, he felt his knee go from under him and we’ll have to get him checked, we need him fit. “Browny has also taken a knock. He has been good for us. We have only got two strikers Saido (Berahino) and Brown, we have got all these results with just two strikers. They look a good pair.” The Potters had been aiming for a fourth straight win, after rising to eighth in the table, but while Jonathan Walters forced a smart save from Myhill they failed to fire. It was just their third defeat in the last 12 league games but boss Mark Hughes admitted he told some home truths at half-time. He said: “It’s fair to say I wasn’t best pleased. We got a little bit of a reaction but we didn’t maintain it. We lacked quality in the final third. “We didn’t play particularly well, we started slowly. “We didn’t ask any questions against a West Brom side who were quite comfortable defending what we were able to produce. We had a slight reaction, possibly to my words, but didn’t maintain it. “That’s a disappointment for us because we have been playing well and I didn’t see the performance coming. We know we’re better than that. “Unfortunately on the day we haven’t been able to produce what we have produced in recent weeks.” It was also West Brom’s first home win over the Potters since 2003 and moved them 11 points clear of the Barclays Premier League drop zone. But Pulis insisted the Baggies should have been home and dry long before the final whistle. “The disappointing thing is we had to wait until the 95th minute to take a sigh of relief, it should have been over before that,” said Pulis, who also beat Stoke 1-0 as Crystal Palace boss last season. “The penalty in the second half, Michael will look at that and be very disappointed, it was as blatant a penalty as I have seen for a long time. “With the offside goal I thought the keeper had touched it, as soon as he does Brown – from what they tell me – is onside again. “It’s three points, I had a great 10 years at Stoke, a wonderful journey, I left it in a very sound financial and good position. We did wonderful things there from a club which was 14th or 15th in the Championship. “To take it to where it went was wonderful and it will be years I will always remember but today was about West Brom getting the three points.” But Ben Foster was forced off in the second half, being replaced by Boaz Myhill, and Pulis also has worries over goalscorer Ideye.