Published online 26 November 2007 | Nature | doi:10.1038/450498d

News in Brief

Indonesia edges closer to sharing bird-flu samples

A deal is being negotiated that could see Indonesia end its policy of withholding samples from human cases of avian flu.

Until now, Indonesia has refused to share its samples with the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it is unfair that ownership of the samples passes to the WHO collaborating centres, and that it does not benefit from any resulting papers or patents.

Indonesia says it will share samples under a material transfer agreement that allows research use, but gives Indonesia sovereign ownership of the samples. The country also wants access to vaccines developed using its samples. An international meeting on 20–23 November in Geneva, Switzerland, ended without agreement. But a statement, still being thrashed out by negotiators, is expected to open the way to concessions.

Indonesia has had the most deaths from the H5N1 bird-flu virus of any country — 91 so far — the most recent on 6 November. 

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