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EU to decide on bird flu vaccination
www.chinaview.cn 2006-02-22 05:47:15

    BRUSSELS, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- The European Union (EU)'s veterinary experts discussed on Tuesday proposals of France and the Netherlands that poultry vaccinations should be used to fight bird flu.

    Paris and The Hague presented plans at a meeting of EU veterinary experts on conducting targeted preventive vaccination campaigns on certain poultry to fight against highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus.

    EU experts discussed the technical and scientific details of the plans, which, if go ahead, would be the first vaccination programs against the lethal H5N1 virus in the EU. The discussions will continue Wednesday morning.

    The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a press release that it will, on the basis of the experts' discussions, consider the plans and lay down specific conditions that must be met in applying them.

    France, one of the eight EU states where dead wild birds had tested positive for H5N1 virus, has set aside 730 million euro (876 million U.S. dollars) to fight the virus and says it is prepared to vaccinate some 900,000 birds.

    The Dutch plan entails vaccinating hobby poultry and free-rangelaying hens throughout the whole country. The vaccination will be provided on a voluntary basis, as an alternative to the requirement that these birds be kept indoors.

    But the vaccination issue has divided Europe with the European Commission.

    EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou has questioned the effectiveness of vaccinations.

    "The question is to make sure that the benefits (of vaccinations) outweigh the costs," the commissioner told reporters.

    "The use of poultry vaccines to guard against the spread of H5N1 bird flu will inflict huge costs on poultry farmers and causeundue distress to poultry," conservative agriculture spokesman in the European parliament, Neil Parish weighed in. Enditem

    

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