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Indonesia Demands Vaccine Rules Before it Shares Bird Flu Samples


Indonesia says it will only share bird flu samples with the World Health Organization if the U.N. body asks its permission before providing the samples to commercial vaccine makers.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Thursday Indonesia wants to ensure its people have access to any vaccine that is made.

The government is concerned samples of its H5N1 virus will be used to make vaccines that will be too expensive for most impoverished Indonesians.

Jakarta announced last week that it had agreed to provide a U.S. drug manufacturer Baxter International with strains of the virus in exchange for technical expertise to help develop a human vaccine.

World Health officials say that while contributing samples is voluntary, having strains from different countries helps scientists track the evolution of the virus.

Bird flu has killed 166 people around the world, a third of them in Indonesia. Most people contract H5N1 from poultry, but health experts are concerned the virus could change into a form easily passed between humans.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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