Web Zap*Germs Archive

November 10, 2005

Bird-Flu Pandemic Prevention Bill: US$1 Billion

WHO health experts meeting in Geneva estimated that it will cost the world about one billion US dollars, spread over the next three years, to contain an avian-flu pandemic. During the meetings, word came from Indonesia that a girl had died from H5N1 bird-flu infection -- the 65th confirmed death to the disease. More info via Reuters.

While the H5N1 flu is still difficult for humans to catch from birds, experts fear a chance mutation will produce a virus as dangerous as the 1917-18 flu that killed millions worldwide.

One of the difficulties in preventing a pandemic is making the proper vaccines and other antiviral drugs available and affordable to poorer nations. Good news on Wednesday, as Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG announced it will provide the raw ingredient to allow Vietnam to produce Tamiflu -- one of the best defenses against bird flu in humans. The Vietnamese government will task a local company with formulating tablet-sized doses of the drug.


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