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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 18:53 GMT
Indonesia halts bird flu boycott
Man using disinfectant in Jakarta
More than 60 people have died from H5N1 in Indonesia
Indonesia's government will share its bird flu samples with the World Health Organisation (WHO), officials said.

Jakarta has reversed its boycott under a deal that ensures Indonesia and other developing nations can access new vaccines against the deadly virus.

The deal also ensures better protection of the country's bird flu data.

Last week, Indonesia said it would only share its samples with groups that would not use them for commercial reasons, or share them with the WHO.

"We agree to responsible sharing practices and we're going to do it soon," Indonesia's Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said.

Local boost

Senior WHO official David Heymann said health ministers from the Asia Pacific and other countries would hold talks in March to flesh out the deal.

"An issue that requires further work is how to make sure that Indonesia and other developing countries have access to the benefit that arises from free sharing of viruses," he said.

"At the same time, we're working with industries in Indonesia to develop local vaccine product capacity through technology transfer."

Pigeon in south Jakarta, Indonesia, on 15 January 2007
Keeping poultry in backyards has been banned in Indonesia

Last week, Dr Heymann said Indonesia had not shared its bird flu samples since the start of the year.

At the time, Jakarta said it was boycotting the WHO and other organisations because it could not afford the commercial vaccines produced from its virus samples.

The samples are vital to keep track of small genetic mutations in the virus, as scientists watch for a strain that could cause a serious human flu epidemic.

Deadly toll

Bird flu has hit hardest in Indonesia; the current H5N1 outbreak has killed more than 60 people there in the past two years.

The WHO has acknowledged that in the past vaccines have been produced using genetic material from poor countries, with the benefits mostly going to developed countries.

Last week Indonesia signed a preliminary vaccine development deal with US pharmaceutical company Baxter International.

This deal would go ahead despite Friday's agreement with the WHO, Ms Supari said.

Indonesia has recently banned keeping poultry in backyards amid fears of more flu outbreaks.


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