Here is an interesting tidbit about Baxter International, a company enmeshed in the controversy surrounding the swine flu pandemic. This news is from the NY Times dated February 7, 2007 and is another connection in common with Obama, Indonesia.
“Indonesia May Sell, Not Give, Bird Flu Virus to Scientists
Published: February 7, 2007″
“Indonesia, which has had more human cases of avian flu than any other country, has stopped sending samples of the virus to the World Health Organization, apparently because it is negotiating a contract to sell the samples to an American vaccine company, a W.H.O. official said yesterday.
The strains of the H5N1 virus circulating in Indonesia are considered crucial to developing up-to-date vaccines and following mutations in the virus. The official, Dr. David L. Heymann, said the agency was “clearly concerned” about the development and was in talks with Indonesia.
Dr. Heymann, the agency’s chief of communicable diseases, said he was not blaming the company involved, Baxter Healthcare of Deerfield, Ill. “But now that this has happened,” he said, “we have to sit down and figure out how to rectify it.”
Indonesia signed a memorandum of agreement with Baxter today.
A Baxter spokeswoman said the company had not asked Indonesia to stop cooperating with the W.H.O. She added that the agreement under negotiation would not give it exclusive access to Indonesian strains.
The virus has not yet mutated into a strain easily transmitted among humans. But it has infected 81 people in Indonesia, 63 of them fatally. It killed more people in 2006 than in any previous year and is out of control in poultry in Indonesia, Egypt and West Africa, so experts fear it as much as ever.”
““The W.H.O. should be their biggest friend. Indonesia has a virus with a 70 percent case fatality, and we don’t know why. If they want to work with the best laboratories in the world, they should make sure that virus samples can get out.”
With human cases breaking out in Egypt, Nigeria and elsewhere, new pandemic flu vaccines could be produced from other strains, Dr. Monto added. Indonesia’s Asian neighbors are the most threatened by its outbreak and may press it to back down, he said.”
“The strains are usually rendered harmless by laboratories that consult with the W.H.O., and the genes responsible for the ability of the virus’s outer coat to invade cells are spliced to older, well-known strains. Then this “seed virus” is given free to private companies that produce millions of doses. “
“The release of sequences — not the virus itself, but the pattern of nucleotides in its genes, which shows what mutations it has made — is a touchy subject because some scientists try to keep the data secret until they can publish scientific papers.”