Resistant virus prompts concern over second line of defence

From Nature (news): Researchers call for more bird flu drugs.

While I’m not 100% convinced the threat of a mosaic/mutant virus will emerge this time, there is one thing that is bugging me about the situation arising in Europe.

In response, countries are stocking up on Tamiflu, the main anti-viral medicine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Turkey has asked Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG to provide 500,000 boxes of medicine. Romania is reportedly also trying to get hold of thousands of doses. Governments are stockpiling the drug for use if the H5N1 virus mutates to a form able to transfer between humans.

My worry? That we will have a North/South (or is it East/West?) divide, where the rich countries in Western Europe stockpile anti-viral drugs, thus depriving the Eastern European countries which border Asia. We musn’t forget that these places form our first line of defence; targeting the disease there will prevent further spreading westwards. Says naïve wee me.

See Nature’s bird flu blog for more info.

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