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WHO Director Urges Nations to Share Bird Flu Virus Strains

Beijing has reported several human bird flu cases. China is readying five virus samples to be shared with WHO, but it is unknown when they will actually be sent, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

Three draft resolutions on the sharing of bird flu samples and access to a future pandemic vaccine are being scrutinized by an expert group at WHO's annual gathering.

Key to the WHO's disease surveillance system, including early warning of a flu pandemic, are the WHO's revised International Health Regulations on preventing and responding to infectious disease threats which will come into effect June 15.

Many countries _ including the U.S. _ have already adopted them, though they remain voluntary. The new health regulations oblige countries to report new disease threats with global public health significance, such as new flu subtypes. They also allow the WHO to act on credible information sources, rather than being reliant strictly on official government channels. The regulations are not legally binding.

Chan said she would do her best to help countries implement the regulations.


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