Tuesday, January 17, 2006

European Commission will support a common stockpile to fight avian influenza

The European Commission announced Monday that it would support a common EU stockpile of antiviral drugs to help combat avian influenza but indicated that member countries would have to fund it. The news comes ahead of a global conference in China aimed at securing the resources necessary to address a potential avian influenza pandemic. The H5N1 virus has infected close to 150 people since 2003 and of those, 79 have died.

"The European Commission must begin creating its own stockpile of bird flu medicines so that any potential outbreaks can be immediately repressed before they spread," a UK MP commented, The Scotsman reports. "This is an area where the EU can play a significant role and currently the sense of urgency is not sufficient. Without a sense of urgency now, we will invite a sense of panic later, " the MP added. The comments come as Turkish officials investigate whether a fourth victim died after being infected with the H5N1 virus in Turkey and Indonesia reported another death from avian influenza.

"Health Commissioner Mr. Kyprianou is in favour in principle of an antiviral stock at EU level, if he is given a mandate and the necessary resources. But there have been some reservations in some member states on practical grounds," EC spokesman Philip Tod explained, The Scotsman reports. Tod added that at the moment, the EC does not possess such a mandate.

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Article by Marie-Eve Laforte