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Monday, 24 October 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

One-minute speeches on matters of political importance

  Gay Mitchell (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I wish to make just two short points concerning the avian flu situation. Dr David Nabarro, UN coordinator for avian and human influenza, has stressed that, to prevent a pandemic of human infection, the global response to the bird flu epidemic must be intensified. The United States has ordered approximately 100 million dollars’ worth of vaccine. The United Nations, by contrast, has a total budget of around USD 7 million to control animal outbreaks of avian flu, but requires USD 175 million for an effective programme.

My second point is that, in addition to the evident problem of slow manufacturing processes, it appears unlikely that there will be enough flu shots available for all those who might need them. However, it might be possible to contain an H5N1 outbreak at its source, if the surrounding population were immediately vaccinated. I would like to raise the question of whether we in the European Union would be prepared to share the vaccines we already have in our possession with regions where an outbreak occurs, in an effort to contain it. It should not just be a matter of having vaccines in case it affects our own citizens: if there is an outbreak, we should target it wherever it occurs and try to ensure that it does not spread.

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