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28 Oct, 2005

Anger Grows Over Bird Flu Double Standards

It so happened that the decision by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, to share the manufacturing of Tamiflu for treating bird flu came less than a week after the virus was found to have landed in Europe.


(Source: China Daily)

BEIJING, Oct. 25 — It so happened that the decision by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, to share the manufacturing of Tamiflu for treating bird flu came less than a week after the virus was found to have landed in Europe.

This represented an abrupt change in the stand taken by the multinational drug company, which had steadfastly rejected shared production requests from various Asian governments in the past several years when the disease killed as many as 60 people in a number of Asian countries.

The timing of Roche’s about-face coinciding with the discovery of the virus in Europe is unfortunate as it would undoubtedly be perceived by some people in Asian developing countries as having a racist undertone.

Before agreeing to sharing negotiations, Roche had reportedly said that manufacturing of the drug involved such a complicated process that it would take up to three years for any other pharmaceutical company to commence production on a meaningful scale. But many scientists and pharmaceutical companies have suggested that Roche might have exaggerated the difficulties in producing the drug. A Taiwan company has said that it could gear up for large-scale production of the drug in less than a month.

Roche’s willingness to negotiate share production agreements with other pharmaceutical companies to increase supply of the drug, which is being stockpiled by many countries, is commendable, irrespective of the timing.

But this was not the first time the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies have been brought into question by the threats of epidemics. The pressure on Roche to license the production of Tamiflu is similar to that put on the developers of AIDS medicines in the 1990s.

The financial and technological resources needed for the development of new drugs have become so huge that only a few of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world can afford to do so. It is argued that if these companies are forced to sell the drugs they have developed at discounted prices, they would be reluctant to make further investments in new drug development.

But this argument seems callous in the context of the threat to many thousands of human lives. As Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, was quoted as saying: “We do not allow intellectual property to get in the way of access of the poor to medication, allowing for emergency production of vaccine in the developing countries, and I wouldn’t want to hear the kind of debate we got into when it came to the HIV drugs.”

Neither do we.

Relatively poor developing countries are not the prime markets for pharmaceutical companies. Most people in those countries simply cannot afford to pay for new drugs to treat their illnesses. It can win the large pharmaceutical companies a lot of goodwill and some profits if they license the manufacturing of some of their products to low-cost manufacturers, such as India, for supply at a discount to other developing countries.

There is the concern that these cheap generic medicines could find their way back to the developed markets. This, of course, would hurt the profits of the patent-holding pharmaceutical companies. Such a concern is real enough because of the widespread availability of drugs, and many other goods, on the Internet.

The reality is this traffic cannot be entirely stopped. But concerted efforts by various governments can keep such illicit trade under tight control.

What’s more, new drugs that are effective in treating endemic diseases are few and they represent only a tiny proportion of all the new drugs patented by any one of the major pharmaceutical companies.

To be sure, the managements of the pharmaceutical companies have a duty to maximize shareholders’ returns. But the goodwill they can secure by satisfying the demand for certain drugs by developing countries in emergency situations can make good business sense in the longer-term.

Globalization has greatly speeded up the industrialization of many developing countries in Asia, South America and, to a lesser extent, Africa. As their economies prosper, these countries are becoming emerging markets for a wide range of imported goods, particularly medicines.

China is a case in point. After two decades of rapid economic growth, the mainland has become one of the world’s fastest growing markets for medicines and health-care products. Nearly all the larger pharmaceutical companies have established manufacturing and marketing joint ventures on the mainland.

Many other developing countries are also well set on the way to rapid economic growth. In the not too distant future, they will, too, become major markets. This is a point well worth remembering.


Oxfam Press Release – 20 October 2005

As rich countries scramble to stockpile drugs to combat a bird flu pandemic, unfair world trade rules will deny poor countries access to adequate supplies of potentially lifesaving treatment at affordable prices. Healthcare services in many developing countries are already in crisis and if a bird flu pandemic strikes poor countries will be hardest hit.

Phil Bloomer, Oxfam’s Policy Director, said: “The World Trade Organization’s rules on patents restricts the supply of medicines and drives up prices meaning poor countries can’t access the treatments they desperately need. Tamiflu could save lives in a bird flu pandemic but poor people simply won’t be able to afford the $2 or more for a single tablet – even if their governments could source sufficient quantities of the medicine.”

The WTO agreement on patents prevents manufacturers in the developing world from producing cheap generic copies of new medicines.

Swiss Roche is the only company licensed to produce and market Tamiflu. The WTO’s agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rights – known as TRIPs – prevents sourcing and supplying cheaper generic versions. A company may grant voluntary licenses to authorise others to also manufacture a drug. TRIPs also allows a government to issue compulsory licenses which overrides patent rules, if a company is not cooperating.

However, poor country governments hold no sway over the giant pharmaceutical companies and need active political support from the international community if they are to put public health before profits. Rich countries have sufficient muscle to influence large drug companies and are leaning heavily on Roche to authorize other suppliers to make Tamiflu.

“While the difficulty in accessing medicines for bird flu is the focus of the western world, poor people are dying now, every day, in their thousands because of an inability to access life saving drugs for existing diseases such as HIV/Aids, hepatitis and Malaria. Medicines for many of these diseases are too expensive or simply unavailable for much of the developing world. We need more medicines globally – and we need to make them affordable to all.”

The big pharmaceutical companies could do a great deal to help improve access to medicines if they looked beyond their short-term commercial interests. They must:

<> adopt a tiered system of pricing which reflects poor countries’ ability to pay.

<> relax patent rules and related intellectual property protection in poor countries.

<> stop pushing for even stricter rules and protections in trade agreements with developing countries, so generic manufacturers can produce and market affordable versions of new drugs.

<> invest more in developing drugs that will benefit people living in poverty.

Developing countries face this situation every day where their populations cannot obtain needed medicines because of patent rules and prices that are far too high.


Analysis by Marwaan Macan-Markar

[Editor’s Note: Inter-Press Service, civil society’s leading news agency, is an independent voice from the South and for development, delving into globalisation for the stories underneath. It shares the same values and credo as Travel Impact Newswire – that “another communication is possible”. I would strongly encourage all my readers in travel & tourism to subscribe to this service for an alternative perspective on global issues, and to support it in their advertising budgets. Log onto http://ipsnews.net/ for some of the best journalism from the developing world.]

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (IPS) – With hardly a hint of shame, voices from the Western world’s political establishment are exhibiting a view that seems to say that the lives of people in the developed world matter more than those that populate the South.

Chuck Schumer, a member of the U.S. Senate from New York, a typical example, has even issued a threat, to pressure the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche to give up its right to protect the patent on Tamiflu, the only drug currently capable of fighting the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

As Schumer sees it, since Roche lacks the capacity to produce sufficient amounts of its patented drug in the wake of fears that the world could be hit by a global pandemic if the bird flu virus mutates into one that could be passed from humans to humans, it should license out production to generic manufacturers.

‘‘If they don’t begin to actually licence the patent for Tamiflu to dramatically increase worldwide production, I am going to pursue a legislative remedy a month from today,’’ he said in a statement, according to media reports from Washington D.C.

‘‘Roche is putting their own interest ahead of world health. They should not be slow-walking this process when we have a potential pandemic that could occur at any time,’’ Schumer was quoted as saying.

By Thursday, Roche had caved in, agreeing to give the licence to manufacture Tamiflu to four U.S. generic drug manufacturers.

Such enlightened thinking, that public health matters more than Roche’s profit margins, has come only after reports that the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has haunted South-east Asia since January last year, has winged its way into Europe.

European health authorities felt that such a turn of events was sufficient grounds to label bird flu a ‘‘global threat.’’ And to save its citizens from a potential pandemic–the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that a deadly influenza virus from bird flu could kill millions– E.U. officials have started talks with the pharmaceutical industry.

Asian countries that have long been affected by bird flu — such as Thailand , where 13 people have died since the virus began infecting the local poultry population last year, and Vietnam’s, the worst hit, with 43 deaths — have not had the same luxury of behaving like political leaders in the U.S. or E.U.

For they, like others in the developing world, are well aware of the fierce defence mounted by the U.S. and the E.U. to protect the patents of drugs produced by the pharma giants, despite such medicines being desperately needed to save the lives of millions in the Third World.

‘‘The reaction in the U.S. and the E.U. is not only double standards at play but one of absurdity too,’’ Nicola Bullard of Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank, told IPS. ‘‘It is absurd because they want Roche to give up its rights on the patent for a disease that is only a threat and doesn’t exist as a human pandemic.’’

There has been no hint of sympathy from the leaders in the U.S. or the E.U. towards people in the developing world who are directly affected by pandemics and have limited access to expensive drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies, she added.

Patients in the developing world who are victims of such discrimination are those suffering from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB). AIDS killed over three million people last year, a majority of them in Africa, while TB killed two million people and malaria killed one million people.

Only last month, the humanitarian agency Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) wrote to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the consequences of greed being placed above human lives when it comes to diseases that affect Third World people.

‘‘The HIV/AIDS crises has shown the urgent need to ensure that essential medicines are available at affordable prices,’’ MSF wrote to Pascal Lamy, the new director general of the WTO. ‘‘(This will worsen) as the impact of patent protection on HIV programmes becomes (more) apparent in the coming years.’’

One of South-east Asia’s poorest countries, Cambodia, is a case in point. As a result of becoming a new member of the WTO last year, it is facing the prospect of losing access to cheap generic anti-AIDS drugs for its HIV patients due to the pressure applied by the U.S. and the E.U. to protect the world’s pharma giants.

Cambodia has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the Asia-Pacific region, with nearly 1.9 percent of adults infected with the killer virus. Currently, not even half of the six million people who need anti-AIDS drugs have access to them in the developing world, resulting in early death for those infected with the AIDS virus.

In contrast, people with HIV in the developed world are not troubled by a premature death due to the availablity of anti-retroviral drugs that they can afford.

But this is not the first time that the world is witnessing leaders in the West conveniently ignoring a principle they have sanctified — that patents of the pharma giants must be protected — as a result of public health crises in their midst.

Countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the United States have resorted to violating the international rules governing intellectual property rights when faced with public health emergencies at home.

That was achieved by these governments resorting to ‘‘compulsory licensing,’’ which is a measure in international commerce that permits a country to break a patent on a drug and get local generic manufacturers to produce a drug. To compensate the patent holder, the generic producer offers a reasonable royalty on the sale of the generic product.

‘‘Until joining the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) in 1992, Canada routinely issued compulsory licenses for pharmacueticals, paying a four percent royalty rate on the net sales price,’’ a U.N. agency stated in a study some years ago on intellectual property rights. ‘‘Between 1969 and 1992 such licenses were granted in 613 cases for importing or manufacturing generic medicines.’’

‘‘In the United States, compulsory licensing has been used as a remedy in more than 100 antitrust cases settlements, including cases involving antibiotics, synthetic steroids and several biotechnology patents,’’ the report added. Yet as analysts like Bullard argue, governments in the developing world are denied this privilege, as if the lives of the poor should matter less than those in the affluent West.

The case being made by Schumer will only reinforce such a belief, she adds. ‘‘There is no getting away from the fact that public goods and public health must take precedence over a pharmaceutical corporation’s profits.’’


ROME, 27 October 2005, – The Food and Agriculture Organization today expressed concern about general and pre-emptive bans on poultry imports adopted in response to avian influenza.

Import bans on poultry that do not distinguish between infected and non-infected countries are contrary to the spirit of the World Trade Organization (WTO), standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and recommendations made by FAO, the UN agency said in a statement.

As countries establish pre-emptive import bans on poultry to prevent possible bird flu outbreaks, FAO noted that in some cases, the bans include poultry from all countries, even those considered to be free of highly pathogenic avian influenza and those that have never experienced an outbreak of H5N1.

Countries arbitrarily banning the import of poultry products from non-infected countries are increasing the vulnerability of international global markets to price shocks, FAO said.

The agency cautioned countries that “trade restrictions to safeguard human and animal health should be imposed only in proportion to the risk involved and that they should be removed promptly when no longer needed.”

However, countries exporting poultry products must also ensure that any incidence of the disease is immediately announced to all trading partners and necessary steps are taken to limit the spread of the disease.

“Bans on poultry products from disease-free countries increase uncertainties in the global meat market, which is already threatened by potential supply shortages and rising meat prices because of continuing BSE-restrictions on North American beef shipments,” according to FAO. “Markets have also been affected by recent import restrictions on meat from Brazil, the largest meat exporting country, in response to recent cases of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).”

According to FAO, recent outbreaks of transboundary diseases and the imposition of disease-related export restrictions had an immediate impact on global meat trade in the 2004/2005. International meat prices, as represented in the FAO meat price index, which is calculated using trade-weighted indicative international prices, have risen to 10-year highs.

Consumer responses to potential bird flu outbreaks are already having a disruptive impact on industries in Europe and beyond, according to FAO. In Europe the reaction has been mixed, for example in Germany there has been no change while consumption of poultry in Italy has declined by 40 percent.

FAO reminded consumers that avian influenza is not a food-borne disease and that the bird flu virus is killed by the heat of normal cooking. “There is no risk of getting avian influenza from properly cooked poultry and eggs.”

Meat processors are urged to apply necessary safety measures to prevent virus transmission to humans.


26 OCTOBER 2005, GENEVA — A meeting entitled “The H5N1 Agenda: Towards a global strategy” will be held at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Geneva headquarters 7-9 November to examine a two-pronged strategy of attempting to control avian influenza at its source in animals, while simultaneously preparing for pandemic influenza.

In recent weeks, a series of country, regional and international meetings, field missions and conferences have clarified the H5N1 challenge in many parts of the world. This meeting will put those pieces into a global picture for a comprehensive assessment and will identify the next steps for the control of avian influenza in animals and preparedness efforts for a human influenza pandemic.

Progress, gaps and redundancies will be clarified and responsibilities assigned for assisting affected countries and countries at risk. The meeting will also identify and prioritize the technical and financial requirements for combating the H5N1 virus.

Participants will include representatives from Member States, NGOs and other stakeholders. The meeting is co-organized by WHO, the FAO, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Bank.

Meanwhile, the WHO has also issued the following 10-point list of things one should know about the pandemic:

1. Pandemic influenza is different from avian influenza.

Avian influenza refers to a large group of different influenza viruses that primarily affect birds. On rare occasions, these bird viruses can infect other species, including pigs and humans. The vast majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. An influenza pandemic happens when a new subtype emerges that has not previously circulated in humans.

For this reason, avian H5N1 is a strain with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once this adaptation occurs, it will no longer be a bird virus–it will be a human influenza virus. Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted to humans.

2. Influenza pandemics are recurring events.

An influenza pandemic is a rare but recurrent event. Three pandemics occurred in the previous century: “Spanish influenza” in 1918, “Asian influenza” in 1957, and “Hong Kong influenza” in 1968. The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 40–50 million people worldwide. That pandemic, which was exceptional, is considered one of the deadliest disease events in human history. Subsequent pandemics were much milder, with an estimated 2 million deaths in 1957 and 1 million deaths in 1968.

A pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and starts spreading as easily as normal influenza – by coughing and sneezing. Because the virus is new, the human immune system will have no pre-existing immunity. This makes it likely that people who contract pandemic influenza will experience more serious disease than that caused by normal influenza.

3. The world may be on the brink of another pandemic.

Health experts have been monitoring a new and extremely severe influenza virus – the H5N1 strain – for almost eight years. The H5N1 strain first infected humans in Hong Kong in 1997, causing 18 cases, including six deaths. Since mid-2003, this virus has caused the largest and most severe outbreaks in poultry on record. In December 2003, infections in people exposed to sick birds were identified.

Since then, over 100 human cases have been laboratory confirmed in four Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and more than half of these people have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults. Fortunately, the virus does not jump easily from birds to humans or spread readily and sustainably among humans. Should H5N1 evolve to a form as contagious as normal influenza, a pandemic could begin.

4. All countries will be affected.

Once a fully contagious virus emerges, its global spread is considered inevitable. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it. The pandemics of the previous century encircled the globe in 6 to 9 months, even when most international travel was by ship. Given the speed and volume of international air travel today, the virus could spread more rapidly, possibly reaching all continents in less than 3 months.

5. Widespread illness will occur.

Because most people will have no immunity to the pandemic virus, infection and illness rates are expected to be higher than during seasonal epidemics of normal influenza. Current projections for the next pandemic estimate that a substantial percentage of the world’s population will require some form of medical care. Few countries have the staff, facilities, equipment, and hospital beds needed to cope with large numbers of people who suddenly fall ill.

6. Medical supplies will be inadequate.

Supplies of vaccines and antiviral drugs – the two most important medical interventions for reducing illness and deaths during a pandemic – will be inadequate in all countries at the start of a pandemic and for many months thereafter. Inadequate supplies of vaccines are of particular concern, as vaccines are considered the first line of defence for protecting populations. On present trends, many developing countries will have no access to vaccines throughout the duration of a pandemic.

7. Large numbers of deaths will occur.

Historically, the number of deaths during a pandemic has varied greatly. Death rates are largely determined by four factors: the number of people who become infected, the virulence of the virus, the underlying characteristics and vulnerability of affected populations, and the effectiveness of preventive measures. Accurate predictions of mortality cannot be made before the pandemic virus emerges and begins to spread. All estimates of the number of deaths are purely speculative.

WHO has used a relatively conservative estimate – from 2 million to 7.4 million deaths – because it provides a useful and plausible planning target. This estimate is based on the comparatively mild 1957 pandemic. Estimates based on a more virulent virus, closer to the one seen in 1918, have been made and are much higher. However, the 1918 pandemic was considered exceptional.

8. Economic and social disruption will be great.

High rates of illness and worker absenteeism are expected, and these will contribute to social and economic disruption. Past pandemics have spread globally in two and sometimes three waves. Not all parts of the world or of a single country are expected to be severely affected at the same time. Social and economic disruptions could be temporary, but may be amplified in today’s closely interrelated and interdependent systems of trade and commerce. Social disruption may be greatest when rates of absenteeism impair essential services, such as power, transportation, and communications.

9. Every country must be prepared.

WHO has issued a series of recommended strategic actions for responding to the influenza pandemic threat. The actions are designed to provide different layers of defence that reflect the complexity of the evolving situation. Recommended actions are different for the present phase of pandemic alert, the emergence of a pandemic virus, and the declaration of a pandemic and its subsequent international spread.

10. WHO will alert the world when the pandemic threat increases.

WHO works closely with ministries of health and various public health organizations to support countries’ surveillance of circulating influenza strains. A sensitive surveillance system that can detect emerging influenza strains is essential for the rapid detection of a pandemic virus.

Six distinct phases have been defined to facilitate pandemic preparedness planning, with roles defined for governments, industry, and WHO. The present situation is categorized as phase 3: a virus new to humans is causing infections, but does not spread easily from one person to another.


Gilead says deal with Roche Inc. threatens Tamiflu’s production

San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, June 24, 2005

Citing “ongoing neglect of the product,” a Bay Area biotech company is attempting to reclaim control of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug it sold to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Inc. that has since emerged as the world’s only practical weapon against a potential pandemic of avian flu.

The Foster City-based Gilead Sciences, best known for its AIDS drug Viread, notified Roche on Thursday that it was terminating the 1996 agreement that gave the Swiss company exclusive rights to make and sell Tamiflu.

Gilead executives disclosed that they have been peppering Roche with complaints about its marketing of Tamiflu for five years, and that manufacturing glitches have been responsible for earlier shortages of a drug now deemed vitally important to public health.

Formerly a lackluster seller in the market for drugs to treat influenza, Tamiflu has become a valuable commodity since December 2003, when scientists became alarmed that a new flu strain that primarily killed chickens in Southeast Asia was starting to kill people who lived in close proximity to the birds.

In April, Roche reported its first quarter sales of Tamiflu quadrupled to $330 million.

Read the rest of this story: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/06/24/MNGHTDE8LG1.DTL

GUESS WHO WAS ONCE CHAIRMAN OF GILEAD: http://www.gilead.com/wt/sec/pr_933190157/

WHERE DOES THE NAME GILEAD COME FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilead


PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC) is preparing an information document on the H5N1 strain of bird flu for members. The aim is to arm the travel industry with accurate knowledge and put the information in scientific and historical context.

The document will define terms such as “pandemic” and “epidemic” that are already in widespread use. It will outline key facts on H5N1 and explain the World Health Organization’s six stages of a pandemic. At the moment the SIC is on a watching brief tracking the progression of H5N1 across the globe. In consultation with its partners, PATA is working on possible action plans for the travel industry.

The SIC’s Director Mr John Koldowski said: “PATA’s role will become more important, especially if there is a flare up and the situation deteriorates. If, however, a pandemic develops, everyone will have to comply with decisions made at the highest level within each country.” The SIC’s first bird flu update will be sent to PATA members this week.


SAINT PETERSBURG. October 27. Kazakhstan News Agency — Avian flu vaccine industrial output will start next March in Russia, Saint Petersburg Flu Research Institute director Oleg Kiselyov said. The methodical work is underway since the institute has got candidate vaccine strain of H5N1 virus from England.

The veterinary bird flu vaccine is supposed to appear in Russia in two or three months. The work at its generation has been launched the same time. The veterinary vaccine may become the bird flu rational counteraction, LenPtitseProm JSC chair Yuri Trusov said.

The “reserve vaccine,” i.e. the medical product to be implemented in case of epidemic threat among the population will be prepared in time for avian flu spread risk reduces by now as cold approaches.

The quantity of the would-be produced vaccine dosage is unknown yet. The high professional risk group aligned with poultry keeping, specialists working at the contaminated or adjacent districts – journalists, geologists, etc. will be probably vaccinated.

General immunization of all Russians is unplanned for it is expensive and of no practical necessity, he stressed.

It is inadvisable to purchase veterinary vaccine abroad for the foreign vaccine registration procedure will take as much time as to set up industrial production of own. Therefore, the Russian one would not come short of import analogues in terms of efficiency and is supposed to be cheaper.

To date the eggs and chickens manufactured in Leningrad oblast have been recognized safe, that is confirmed by the EU permission to import poultry farming products from Leningrad oblast to Europe. As the experts estimated, it would claim 17 mln doses of medication to vaccinate all hens at the region’s poultry plants.


Thai Airways International Public Company Limited has reassured its passengers that avian flu preventive measures continue to be implemented to guard against its spread in the passenger cabin and while transporting cargo and mail.

Mr. Somchainuk Engtrakul, THAI’s Board Member Acting as President, announced THAI’s continual implementation of preventive avian flu measures, further to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)’s confirmation of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza present in samples taken from domestic birds in Turkey and H5 subtype of avian influenza virus found amongst poultry in Romania.

Mr. Engtrakul said that THAI has long since introduced “The Most Hygienic In Cabin Environment” program stressing the importance of hygiene in the passenger cabin, which includes food safety, importance of cleanliness, with all THAI employees continuously implementing these procedures through to present. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized THAI’s public health efforts conducted in its “Most Hygienic” in cabin program, which was extended to hygienic safety in the passenger lounge.

In maintaining “The Most Hygienic In Cabin Environment,” THAI has placed TRUE HEPA filters in the passenger cabin of all airplanes operated by THAI, which replaces the HEPA filter previously utilized that is used by other airlines. The TRUE HEPA filter is a high performance air filter that has received approval in the medical field for use in operating rooms of major hospitals worldwide, being capable to guard against the spread of disease, bacteria, dust, mold, and vapor, with the ability to catch viral particles at 0.1 microns or by 99.999%.

THAI’s flight crew and cabin crew receive regular vaccinations guarding them against contracting influenza on an annual basis during the months of December to January. The company has implemented its influenza vaccination program for approximately 4 years, and this year vaccinations will be conducted between 1-30 November 2005 as a preventive measure for the benefit of passengers. In addition, THAI’s flight crew and cabin crew receive vaccinations to prevent against contracting meningococcal meningitis, which is spread in Delhi and Bombay, India, which flights are operated by THAI.

Since the introduction of preventive avian flu measures were first enacted by the company, THAI has implemented procedures regulating transport of live birds and poultry for export and import purposes, as follows:

Transport for Export Purposes

<> Embargo placed on the transport of live birds and poultry from farms or areas that the

Government has identified as affected areas.

<> Applicable documents required for export transport:

– Animal health certificate

– Transportation permit within the kingdom, stating the animal’s origins

– Permit for import to final destination

– Customs release permit (form 99/1)

<> All documents must be approved by the Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, complete with stamp of approval.

Transport for Import Purposes

<> Embargo on import of live birds and poultry from affected countries.

<> Applicable documents required for import transport:

– Animal health certificate

– Transportation permit for live birds and poultry from an infection-free destination

– Transportation permit for airport transport

– Import permit for import transport into Thailand issued by the Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives

<> All certificates and permits must be approved by the Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, with stamp of approval.

THAI coordinates with the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in Thailand, as well as with the World Health Organization, on a regular basis to conduct nationwide epidemiological investigation on strains of avian flu. Furthermore, THAI has prepared and provided information on its preventive measures to other organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the International Air Transportation Association, and the 16 airlines under Star Alliance. THAI always places the highest degree of importance on passenger health and safety, for maximum customer satisfaction.



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