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Volume 14, Number 1—January 2008

Perspective

Influenza Virus Samples, International Law, and Global Health Diplomacy

David P. Fidler*Comments to Author 
Author affiliation: *Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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Summary of actions that World Heath Organization member states requested of director-general

• To identify and propose, in consultation with member states, frameworks and mechanisms that aim to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits among all member states, taking strongly into consideration the specific needs of developing countries
• To establish, in consultation with member states, an international stockpile of vaccines for influenza (H5N1) or other influenza viruses of pandemic potential
• To formulate mechanisms and guidelines, in consultation with member states, aimed at ensuring fair and equitable distribution of pandemic influenza vaccines at affordable prices in the event of a pandemic to ensure timely availability of such vaccines to member states in need
• To mobilize financial, technical, and other appropriate support from member states, vaccine manufacturers, development banks, charitable organizations, private donors, and others to implement mechanisms and increase the equitable sharing of benefits as described in the resolution
• To convene an interdisciplinary working group to revise the terms of reference of WHO Collaborating Centers, H5 Reference Laboratories, and national influenza centers, devise oversight mechanisms, formulate draft standard terms and conditions for sharing viruses between originating countries and WHO Collaborating Centers, between the latter and third parties, and to review all relevant documents for sharing influenza viruses and sequencing data, based on mutual trust, transparency, and overriding principles
• To assure a member of the interdisciplinary working group consisting of 4 member states from each of the 6 WHO regions, taking into account balanced representation between industrialized and developing countries and including both experts and policymakers
• To convene an intergovernmental meeting to consider the reports by the director-general and by the interdisciplinary working group, which shall be open to all member states and regional economic organizations
• To commission an expert report on the patent issues related to influenza viruses and their genes, and report to the intergovernmental meeting
• To continue work with member states on the potential for conversion of existing biological facilities, such as those for the production of veterinary vaccines, so as to meet the standards for development and production of human vaccines, thereby increasing the availability of pandemic vaccines, and to enable them to receive vaccine seed strains
• To report on progress on implementation of the resolution to the World Health Assembly

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