Although some, like US and European governments, would like to pretend it isn't happening, it's no secret that there has been a huge increase in international patent applications claiming bits and pieces of H5N1 viruses and related vaccines and other treatments.
The overall trends can be monitored by searching on PatentScope, a free international patent application database published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). If you are new to patents, it might be intimidating at first - patent talk is not plain English - but with a bit of experimentation, searching PatentScope is something anyone can learn to do.
There are three such searches that I have been monitoring for nearly two years now. The results aren't pretty, and they are getting worse. The tidal wave of H5N1 patent claims shows no signs of abating, and is on track in 2008 to meet or exceed 2007, which was already the biggest year of such patent claims on record.
The trend is clear: An emerging "patent thicket" threatens to impair H5N1 research and make vaccines and other treatments unaffordable. But don't count on the US or European governments doing anything about this - they're still in denial mode.
This is a short paper that I wrote late last year on the contradictory and self-destructive US and EU positions on influenza virus sharing and the Revised International Health Regulations. It was originally distributed at a meeting of the Pugwash Study Group on the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and is thus written from a security perspective, and uses terms like "biosecurity".
I generally think that security language is essentially useless and even counterproductive for talking about flu, particularly the ill-defined term "biosecurity" which is dangerous (I try to always put it in quotes). I use it nonetheless because it is (hopefully temporarily) part of the lingua franca of security types (but never public health, I hope!). (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.