Friday, May 24, 2013

WHO: Scientific red tape mars efforts vs. virus

May 24, 2013
GENEVA (AP) — International efforts to combat a new pneumonia-like virus that has now killed 22 people are being slowed by unclear rules and competition for the potentially profitable rights to disease samples, the head of the World Health Organization warned Thursday.

Dr. Margaret Chan, in a blunt warning to the U.N. agency's annual global assembly, portrayed a previously little-known flap over who owns a sample of the virus as a global game-changer that could put people's lives at risk. The virus, which first emerged in Saudi Arabia where most cases have arisen, is called MERS for Middle East respiratory syndrome.

"Please, I'm very strong on this point, and I want you to excuse me," she said. "Tell your scientists in your country, because you're the boss. You're the national authority. Why would your scientists send specimens out to other laboratories on a bilateral manner and allow other people to take intellectual property rights on a new disease?"


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