Here we continue notes from the World Health Organization Pandemic Inflluenza Preparedness Intergovernmental Meeting. Refer to the previous post to read: Pretending You are In Charge (WHO), America Insults the Scientists of the Developing World - Or Is It About Patents?, and Japan's Big Bluffer.
US Shenanigans on Distributing Vaccine Seed Strain
Uncle Sam is up to something untoward when it comes to WHO's (pre)pandemic influenza vaccine seed strains. Immuncompetent doesn't know for sure what it is; but he's got a hunch. The issue is the language under discussion that would direct WHO Collaborating Centres to distribute influenza vaccine seed strain.
In addition to providing H5N1 vaccine seed strain to industry (which WHO CC's presently do), most countries want to make sure that the vaccine seed strain is also provided to national influenza centers around the globe or, at least, in the country of origin of the HA gene used in the seed strain.
Although the US professes to be in favor of this, it actually seems to have problems with sharing vaccine seed strains. To wit, it insists on inserting qualifying language into the paragraph (More)
Here are some notes, updated when I feel so moved, from the resumed WHO Pandemic Preparedness Intergovernmental Meeting (WHO PIP IGM). This is the continuation of previous WHO PIP IGM meetings on the topic that is commonly understood to the be the conflict between Indonesia and the US over virus sharing, but which in fact is broader and much more complicated. The meeting reopened on Monday, 8 December and will last until this Friday or Saturday.
This is not a comprehensive report. It's a collection of thoughts about issues, particularly when they are amenable to being dealt with discreetly. A more comprehensive piece will, hopefully, follow.
The mini blog posts here here are:
Pretending You are In Charge (WHO)
America Insults the Scientists of the Developing World - Or Is It About Patents?
Japan's Big Bluffer
Pretending You are In Charge (WHO)
To any careful observer of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network it is clear that labs in the powerful countries - like the US, Japan, UK, and Australia - just do whatever they want with H5N1 samples and call it a WHO activity. They are "WHO labs" in name only. (More)
The Centers for Disease Control has a World Health Organization Collaborating Center (WHO CC) for influenza, but it may be unable to fulfill its duty to WHO because US domestic law prevents it from adequately sharing influenza viruses. The law is US export control legislation, and it requires that labs, including CDC, obtain a license from the Department of Commerce before sharing a number of disease agents. (More)
Stashed away in a somewhat obscure corner of the .mil webzone are an interesting set of H5N1 reports. Prepared about every week by the US Pacific Command (PACOM) and the Australian Army's Land Headquarters (LHQ), the reports summarize recent developments with H5N1 with an interesting twist. Who they are prepared for isn't clear; but Immunocompetent thinks they look like a slide that goes into scheduled briefing for higher-ups somewhere on the military food chain, probably at the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, on whose website the files can be found.
We have some choice extracts below; but there's plenty more interesting reading that you can download. (And if the OSD "disappears" this information off its website, we have a complete archival copy.)
The reports, marked "unclassified", provide abbreviated updates H5N1 cases worldwide; but they are more interesting for what they select as newsworthy H5N1 politics.
Recently, PACOM has been very interested in the NAMRU-2 negotiation and the WHO PIP IGM, and the reports have included information not public elsewhere. For instance, details on conversations between WHO staff and US government representatives, and on the (apparently failed) bilaterals between Indonesia and the US. (These were facilitated by Australia.) (More)
A flu article recently written for SUNS...
US military flu virus collection parallels WHO virus system
Bogota, 26 Nov (Edward Hammond*) -- A large and rapidly growing global US military virus collection system parallels the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Surveillance Network (WHO GISN) but does not entirely share its public health purposes.
The US military system is a source of viruses for the WHO GISN; but it does not give most of its virus collections to WHO. It does keep all the lab specimens and viruses it collects for its own use.
Wider knowledge of the extent of the US military virus collection system and its ambiguous relationship to the WHO GISN system will raise important questions for the WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Inter-Governmental Meeting (PIP IGM), which will convene in Geneva the second week of December. (More)
I am weary of public health G.I. Joes (and Janes) and other obsessives and their threats that we're all gonna die of bird flu.
I am turned off by the callous and poorly reasoned bashing of foreigners that fills many flu blogs.
I believe that greed and poor governance in the US and EU plays a huge and underexplored role in the sad state of global readiness for a flu pandemic.
I am sure that national security and public health ought not to be mixed up in the way they have become.
Immunocompetent is a place for enlightened talk about Bird Flu, and where xenophobia and fearmongering are banned.
Here you will find fresh perspective about the serious problem of potentially pandemic influenza. You'll get information and analysis that you won't find blogged elsewhere, because this site doesn't just comment on the news, it aims to make it.
From 1999 to 2008 your host, Edward Hammond, directed the Sunshine Project, a nongovernmental organization focusing on biological weapons and biosafety. He first stuck his toe into influenza issues in 2003, when the Sunshine Project issued one of the first public warnings that US scientists were intending to recreate 1918 influenza. Since 2006 he has focused on H5N1 issues, specifically, questions of access and benefit sharing related to influenza viruses.