From: Reuters
Published December 14, 2007 03:12 AM

Hungary offers Indonesia loan for bird flu vaccine

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Hungary has offered loans to Indonesia to build a plant to develop and produce a birdflu vaccine for humans using Indonesia's H5N1 avian flu virus strain, a senior industry ministry official said on Friday.

With 93 human deaths from bird flu so far, Indonesia has the world's highest death toll from the disease.

Hungary has offered its vaccine-making technology so that Indonesia could test the virus and make the vaccine, said Rifana Erni, the head of research and development at the Industry Ministry.

"They have the technology and funds to develop the vaccine," said Erni, adding that Hungary expressed an interest in helping because of the high number of cases in Indonesia as well as the row between Indonesia and the World Health Organisation over sample sharing.

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Hungary made the offer during a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation meeting in Vienna earlier this month, she said.

The official did not give details of how much Hungary would lend or which pharmaceutical companies are involved, but she said more details would be provided early next year.

Hungary has not had any human infections with bird flu so far, but it had an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu in a flock of geese in January.

In April, Egyptian vaccine maker Vacsera said it was interested in teaming up with an Indonesian company to develop a bird flu vaccine for humans.

Earlier this year, Indonesia signed a preliminary agreement with a unit of drugs firm Baxter International to develop a human bird flu vaccine.

Contact with sick fowl is the most common way of contracting bird flu which is endemic in bird populations in most part of Indonesia. Experts fear that the virus could mutate into a form easily passed from person to person, and could lead to the deaths of millions of people worldwide.

(Reporting by Yayat Supriatna, writing by Fitri Wulandari)

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