Pakistan Official Confirms First Human To Human Spread Of H5N1
Indonesia's health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, has been a thorn in the side of the World Health Organisation, and the pharmaceutical behemoths, refusing to hand over samples of Indonesian bird flu because she very reasonably fears that these strains will be patented and Indonesia will be forced to pay billions to access H5N1 vaccines in the future.
Supari has published a book called 'It's Time For The World To Change - The Divine Hand Behind Avian Influenza, and kicked up a small storm of controversy over her claims that avian influenza viruses were being 'weaponised' in American bioweapons labs. The book won an endorsement from Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Excerpts from an interview with Supari on AM :
Dr Supari expresses alarm at WHO laboratories sharing bird flu virus data with the United States national laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where nuclear weapons are developed.Supari cops plenty back from the US government and the World Health Organisation :
"Whether they use is it to make vaccine or develop chemical weapons, would depend on the need and interest of the US Government. It is indeed a very dangerous situation for the destiny of humanity", she writes and goes on to say ".. it is a matter of choice whether to use the material for vaccines or biological weapon development".
SITI FADILAH SUPARI: I didn’t know whether our virus will be develop into a vaccine or will be develop into a biological weapon. So just a question - I didn’t blame United States, I didn’t blame any country.
Claims that H5N1 was a bioweapon have been aired since the virus reappeared in Hong Kong in 1997, and started killing humans along with markets full of poultry.
The United States has rejected the Indonesian Health Minister's claims that it is using bird flu samples to produce biological weapons and World Health Organisation officials have condemned allegations of conspiring to profit from bird flu vaccines.
The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is understood to have ordered the minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, to recall copies of her book on avian influenza, which alleges the US and the WHO are conspiring against developing countries by seizing control of bird flu samples.
WHO officials said they were dismayed by some of the claims and urged Dr Supari to do more to control bird flu's spread and end her refusal to share virus samples - which is hampering attempts to find a cure.
A US State Department spokeswoman, Susan Stahl, denied Dr Supari's claim that Indonesian virus samples had been sent to a biological weapons laboratory in Los Alamos. The laboratory possessed no bird flu viruses from Indonesia or elsewhere, she said.
The facility's only involvement was hosting a database of publicly available genetic-sequencing data to help track the evolution of the virus, she said.
The WHO's assistant director-general for Health Security, David Heymann, said he was puzzled by the claims.
"I don't understand why they would take this virus to make a biological weapon; it doesn't transmit from human to human. Indonesia needs to spend more time on dealing with infections with chickens and stopping humans from being infected."
When the avian influenza virus began ravaging poultry farms in rural Russia in the early 2000s, a US bioweapons conspiracy theory gained popularity. It went like this : the deadly virus was a US bioweapon designed to knock out local poultry farms and open up the market to cheap American poultry imports, mostly chicken wings and legs, which Russian poultry farmers called "Bush Legs."
A senior Pakistan government official has claimed the world's first human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus occurred in Pakistan in November 2007 :
A man in northern Pakistan passed the deadly bird flu virus to two of his brothers, and the virus killed one of them, in the first known human-to-human transmission in Pakistan, a health official said Friday.
'It was definitely person-to-person. That is confirmed,' said Maqbool Jan Abbasi, Ministry of Health joint secretary. He said the World Health Organization confirmed by serological testing from a family in Peshawar, northwest of the capital Islamabad, three brothers had H5N1, the strain of avian influenza that can be deadly in humans.