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Chinese bird flu deaths under spotlight

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Chinese bird flu deaths under spotlight


The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has visited a laboratory that is about to carry out trials of a new bird flu vaccine. This as the country became the fifth to report human deaths from the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus.However, the World Health Organisation says it does not necessarily mean a pandemic will break out.

One of the confirmed cases in China involved a nine-year-old boy in Hunan province; while his sister died, he is now recovering.China has been praised by the WHO for its openness about the deaths and their promise to put in place an action plan. Elsewhere, lawmakers in Washington have rejected an emergency budget to fight bird flu after Republicans argued other government programmes would have to be cut. And an anti-flu drug made by the company Roche is being studied by US regulators after the deaths of 12 children who took the tablets in Japan.Earlier this week the company reported two possible suicides of Japanese youngsters who took Tamiflu – considered the best defence against bird flu – but it said there was no clear evidence the drug played a role.US regulators agree no link has yet been established.
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