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Western Blot Signals Phase 6 Bird Flu Pandemic in Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary

June 23, 2005

>>  The team will also be analysing some potentially disturbing but hard-to-assess test results that could suggest a significant number of additional human infections have occurred but went undetected.

The researchers, working at Hanoi's National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology, tested hundreds of stored blood samples looking for antibodies to the H5N1 virus to see if there have been more infections in the region than had been previously thought.

A source familiar with the research said scores of samples came back positive.

"These are highly questionable results," said Dick Thompson, director of communications for the WHO's communicable diseases branch in Geneva.

Normally speaking, laboratories would run a microneutralization test, which measures the concentration in the blood of antibodies capable of attacking or neutralizing the H5N1 virus. That test cannot be done at the Hanoi lab, because it doesn't have a high enough biosafety and biosecurity rating.  <<

The above comments raise major concerns regarding the number of H5N1 positive patients in northern and central Vietnam.  Earlier reports had indicated the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology had collected about 1000 serum samples from patients and birds in northern and central Vietnam.  These included samples from Quang Binh in central Vietnam where are reported 195 people had bird flu symptoms, Haiphong, where a family of 5 were hospitalized on the same day and all five were H5N1 positive, and Quang Ninh, where a 34 year old physician developed acute respiratory distress on April 1 that was quickly followed by president Bush signing an executive order making bird flu a quarantinable disease in the United States.

After the samples were tested in northern Vietnam an urgent meeting was called and the samples were said to have been shipped to CDC in Atlanta.  Shortly thereafter another urgent meeting was called and hed on May 6-7 in Manila.  Although alarms were sounded, the results from the serum samples were not released, which would have created a dramatic jump in the number of H5N1 lab confirmed patrients, and signal phase 6 of the pandemic.

Instead, it sounds like another test was required, and when it also showed a high number of positives, the test was designated "research" and the data has still not been released.

So now there are hundreds of H5N1 positives in patients in Vietnam, but more tests are required, but Vietnam lacks the testing facilities.  There is so much H5N1 outside the lab that H5N1 cannot be grown inside the lab.

The monitoring of H5N1 in Asia is well beyond scandalous.

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