Indonesia opens up access to bird flu gene codes

Just before Indonesia announced its forty-throed bird flu death, researchers around the globe got some welcome news. Indonesian health officials announced that they were taking off the restrictions on sharing the gene sequences of its avian flu virus. Those sequences, the genetic code to the virus, are considered crucial to understanding how the disease is changing. Indonesia has presented some of the most alarming cases of avian flu clusters, including family clusters where the disease evidently jumped from human to human. The World Health Organization had been restricted in sharing the sequences with a handful of laboratories. Now, though, the wraps are evidently coming off and researchers can gain the information they need from a public web site. According to Indonesian officials, they learned only recently about the hue and cry in research circles about the need for greater transparency in the process. Indonesia, however, has demonstrated that it can't organize an effective response in halting the spread of the virus, which is continuing to raise fears of a human pandemic.

- here's the article on Indonesia's response from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)