Profiteering from Bird flu?

Disasters may bring out the best in some people – like the Swedish Embassy guy who is letting 30 poor families stay in his Kemang mansion – but they also create economic opportunities for the lowlifes of society. The sorts of people who suddenly find themselves with huge bargaining power and the ability to prevent someone from getting to (or from) a flooded area unless the necessary fee is paid. More on that here.

But it ain’t only the lower echelons who are up for a quick buck. Cos news has surfaced that the Indonesian government has decided to stop sharing samples of the killer bird flu virus with the international community. This has apparently infuriated the World Health Organization (WHO) because it puts in jeopardy a global sharing arrangement for flu viruses that has been in place for the last 50 years.

It seems the Indonesian govt has reached some sort of an agreement with a US company called Baxter which will have exclusive access to virus samples to allow it to produce vaccines. Whether that’s only for Indonesia is unclear.

But this can only mean one thing of course: that Baxter is paying some sort of fee/commission in return for its exclusive rights. But how much? And who is getting the money? Only the govt? Or will it find its way into the grubby hands of the self-serving men in Boy Scout uniforms?


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