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Europe Increases Offer of Aid to Fight Bird Flu, Roche to Donate More Tamiflu

European Union Health Commissioner Markos Kypriano says the EU is increasing its pledge for the fight against bird flu to $120 million.

The EU pledged the assistance in Beijing Tuesday at a donors conference organized by health experts to raise money to help developing countries contain bird flu. The World Bank and World Health Organization are hoping to raise $1.5 billion from rich countries to help poorer nations fight bird flu and prevent a global pandemic.

The United States is expected to announce its pledge on Wednesday.

Swiss drugmaker Roche said it will donate another batch of Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication, to treat an additional two million people in the event of a bird flu pandemic.

A World Health Organization official, Margaret Chan, told the meeting there is a great risk of an epidemic, although the timing and severity is uncertain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Bloomberg.