- BEIJING (AsiaNews/Agencies)
-- There is no credible evidence that Tamiflu works against the H5N1virus,
but donors, conference raises US$ 1.9 billion to fight the outbreak.
- In an article published in The Lancet medical journal
today, researchers from the Cochrane Vaccines Field in Rome and the University
of Queensland in Australia warn against over-reliance on Tamiflu. Focus
should be on implementing quarantine measures and improving personal hygiene.
- The researchers found that older antiviral drugs such
as amantadine and rimantadine should not be used because they are ineffective
and can cause adverse side effects such as hallucinations.
- Yet, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is recommending
governments stockpile Tamiflu even though the usefulness of the expensive
measure is increasingly coming under criticism.
- For Malik Peiris, professor of microbiology at the University
of Hong Kong, "[i]t is important that [. . .] people should not be
panicking and taking these pills left right and centre.
- "Tamiflu and Relenza, he said, "do shorten
the course of the illness by one and half days or so. [But] it is not something
- Meanwhile, the conference on the avian flu in Beijing
ended with some 120 countries and organisations pledging US$ 1.9 billion
to a global fund to fight the disease. The US will contribute US$ 334 million,
the European Union, 250 million, and Japan, another 155 million. The money
will go to prevention and to improve health services for people and animals.
For poor countries, the aid is essential. Not only do they lack the resources
to cope with the emergency but they are also the hardest hit.
- About US$ 1 billion will go to poor countries in South-East
Asia, where the virus has become endemic, and in other parts of the world
such as Africa. The other 900 million will be available as loans for short-term
and long-term programmes.
- China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Turkey
will benefit the most. Indonesia alone has asked for half a billion dollars
to cull poultry at risk and compensate farmers.
- Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urged rich countries
to open their wallets to beat the disease. China itself will spend US$
10 million, the highest contribution for a developing country.
- Countries participating in the conference also endorsed
a Beijing Declaration, agreeing to "take further co-ordinated actions
to strengthen disease surveillance and diagnostics, develop much-needed
capacity in human and veterinary healthy systems, increase public awareness
and address social and economic impacts.
- The UN coordinator on avian and human influenza David
Nabarro said resources were needed immediately because animal health services
around the world are not strong enough to monitor bird flu outbreaks effectively
and cull poultry flocks.
- Margaret Chan, top WHO pandemic expert, told the conference
that the cost of acting now was "peanuts compared to the potential
losses in the event of a pandemic.
- According to the World Bank (WB), the economic cost to
the world's economy of any pandemic could reach as much as US$ 800 billion
and cause millions of dead.
- "Past outbreaks have already cost more than billion
in economic losses, said WB Chairman Paul Wolfowitz.
- China. A 35-year-old woman"who raised poultry in
the village of Zhoujia, in the south-western province of Sichuan"probably
died of the disease which she had contracted on January 3. The death, if
confirmed, would take China's toll to six.
- Iraq. Tests into the death of a 14-year-old girl who
died on January 17 in Sulaimaniya are pending. She fell ill in Raniya,
an area that receives migratory birds from neighbouring Turkey.
- Syria. Birds in towns near the north-eastern border with
Turkey have been culled and destroyed.
- Turkey. The country,s 21st case of bird flu in humans
has been confirmed; it involves a four-year-old boy from the Dogubayazit
district in the eastern province of Agri. Tests are underway on an 11-year-old
girl from Mus province who died in Erzurum. (PB)
- Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural
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