China not yet sharing AI information: Update

06-09-2006 | |

China, which promised to share its avian influenza virus samples with the World Health Organisation six months ago, still has not fulfilled its promise, according to a WHO official.

The WHO, as well as scientists worldwide, say that open sharing of avian influenza virus information is needed so that efforts to develop a vaccine can be continued.
In March, the Chinese government agreed to give WHO about 20 samples. The organisation expected to receive those samples within a matter of days after the announcement, but the shipment has not arrived.

“The logistical arrangements are there to ship those viruses. I don’t fully understand why the viruses at this stage haven’t been shared,” said Julie Hall, an expert on communicable diseases at the World Health Organisation’s Beijing office.

“To develop the vaccine and drugs, you have to have live viruses… China is very important to the jigsaw puzzle. It has a lot of detailed information that could be of benefit.” By providing viruses, scientists could also analyze them and pinpoint whether an outbreak in another country was linked to or originated in China, Hall said.

A representative of China’s Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary department, Li Jinxiang, has said that Beijing wants “to conform to WHO standards for international transfers”, and that plans were in place to provide the information.