China Reluctant to Provide Samples of H7N9 Avian Influenza


U.K. Media report that China has refused to supply samples of H7N9 avian influenza, responsible for mortality among the human population in that country.  Apparently a sample was provided in 2016 but since that time the virus has obviously undergone mutation.


The Director of the Worldwide Influenza Center located in London stated that vaccines could be created using available gene sequencing but the effectiveness of a vaccine would be enhanced if scientists had access to the current strain of the virus.


Scientists including Dr. Ian Jones of the University of Reading expressed the opinion that it would be preferable to have samples of the virus available to prepare an inactivated vaccine in anticipation of a pandemic.


An infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Michael Callahan was quoted in the New York Times as stating, “Jeopardizing U.S. access to foreign pathogens and therapies to combat them undermines our nation's ability to protect against infections which can spread globally within days.”


Avian influenza strain H7N9 emerging in 2013 and has resulted in 1,600 diagnosed cases with 600 fatalities, attesting to the virulence of the virus in susceptible humans.