- The team will also be analysing some potentially disturbing
but hard-to-assess test results that could suggest a significant number
of additional human infections have occurred but went undetected.
- The researchers, working at Hanoi's National Institute
for Hygiene and Epidemiology, tested hundreds of stored blood samples looking
for antibodies to the H5N1 virus to see if there have been more infections
in the region than had been previously thought.
- A source familiar with the research said scores of samples
came back positive.
- "These are highly questionable results," said
Dick Thompson, director of communications for the WHO's communicable diseases
branch in Geneva.
- Normally speaking, laboratories would run a microneutralization
test, which measures the concentration in the blood of antibodies capable
of attacking or neutralizing the H5N1 virus. That test cannot be done at
the Hanoi lab, because it doesn't have a high enough biosafety and biosecurity
- The above comments raise major concerns regarding the
number of H5N1 positive patients in northern and central Vietnam. Earlier
reports had indicated the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology
had collected about 1000 serum samples from patients and birds in northern
and central Vietnam. These included samples from Quang Binh in central
Vietnam where are reported 195 people had bird flu symptoms, Haiphong,
where a family of 5 were hospitalized on the same day and all five were
H5N1 positive, and Quang Ninh, where a 34 year old physician developed
acute respiratory distress on April 1 that was quickly followed by president
Bush signing an executive order making bird flu a quarantinable disease
in the United States.
- After the samples were tested in northern Vietnam an
urgent meeting was called and the samples were said to have been shipped
to CDC in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter another urgent meeting was called
and hed on May 6-7 in Manila. Although alarms were sounded, the results
from the serum samples were not released, which would have created a dramatic
jump in the number of H5N1 lab confirmed patrients, and signal phase 6
of the pandemic.
- Instead, it sounds like another test was required, and
when it also showed a high number of positives, the test was designated
"research" and the data has still not been released.
- So, now there are hundreds of H5N1 positives in patients
in Vietnam, but more tests are required, but Vietnam lacks the testing
facilities. There is so much H5N1 outside the lab that H5N1 cannot be
grown inside the lab.
- The monitoring of H5N1 in Asia is well beyond scandalous.
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