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Cablegate: Avian Influenza - February 22 Update

VZCZCXRO4497
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0351/01 0530820
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220820Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8060
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J07/CATMED/CAT//
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8337
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2028
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1087
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7733

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000351

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, G/AIAG AND OES
USAID FOR ANE/CLEMENTS AND GH/CARROLL
DEPT ALSO PASS TO HHS/WSTEIGER/ABHAT/MSTLOUIS AND HHS/NIH
GENEVA FOR WHO/HOHMAN
USDA/FAS/OSTA BRANT, ROSENBLUM
USDA/APHIS ANNELLI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO AMED CASC EAGR AMGT PGOV ID
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA - FEBRUARY 22 UPDATE

1.(SBU) SUMMARY: In an unexpected move on February 20, Minister of
Health Supari authorized the release of samples from two human H5N1
cases to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in
Atlanta. NAMRU-2 shipped the samples on February 21. The Ministry
of Health (MOH) authorized the shipment without requiring a Material
Transfer Agreement (MTA). The MOH pulled back all English version
copies of Supari's book entitled "It's Time to Change the World"
while international press picked up on the story of Supari's
conspiracy allegations that the US and World Health Organization
(WHO) will use Indonesian AI samples for capitalistic gains and
other duplicitous purposes. On February 12, UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) officials told us that Dr. Darminto, the Director
of Balitvet, the national research laboratory for Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA), will not release poultry virus samples held at
the laboratory as they soon will have the capacity to conduct
necessary research in-house. On February 18, USAID, AusAID, and FAO
met with Dr. Tjeppy Soedjana, MOA Director General of Livestock for
his assistance in expediting the release of samples. As of February
22, Indonesia has 129 human cases, with 105 fatalities. End Summary.


---------------------------------
Litbangkes to Send Samples to CDC
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Dr. Endang Sedyaningsih, Senior Researcher of Litbangkes
told us on February 20 that Litbangkes wants NAMRU to send samples
from two recent cases to CDC for analysis. The cases involve a 38
year-old mother and 15 year-old daughter who have both survived AI
and are apparently recovering. Although initially requesting that
CDC sign a MTA, the MOH ultimately authorized shipment without
requiring a MTA. Following receipt of a Litbangkes authorization
letter, NAMRU-2 shipped specimens by World Courier the afternoon of
21 February with tentative arrival in Atlanta on February 25.

3. (SBU) Litbangkes has also requested assistance to identify a
consultant who can assist with characterization of H5N1 samples at
laboratories in Indonesia. We have proposed recruiting a laboratory
scientist from CDC-Atlanta.

---------------------------------
Press Highlights Book Allegations
---------------------------------

4. (U) Following the public sale of Supari's book "It's Time to
Change the World-the Divine Hand behind Avian Influenza," the
Government of Indonesia suddenly recalled all English version books
until the English version of the book is rewritten to correct
"translation errors." The book currently describes a US and WHO
plot to use samples for private gain and potentially for the
development of biological weapons at Los Alamos laboratory.

5. (U) At a press conference on February 21, Supari indicated that
the English translator made numerous mistakes when translating from
the Bahasa Indonesia edition and that she had not made these
allegations. Press has contacted Embassy officials requesting that
we comment on Supari's allegation about biological weapons. We
responded to all direct inquiries, denying the allegations. The Age,
a Sydney newspaper and the Financial Times ran stories about the
book on February 20 and 21. Indonesian newspapers including the
Koran Tempo, the Indo Pos and the Republika featured stories on
February 22.

6. (U) On February 22, Supari defended her position on RCTI national
television, stating she will not revise or withdraw her book even
though "certain parties" protest its content. The minister also
mentioned that the US may create biological weapons from the avian
flu virus. She stated that the Indonesians have a right to know this
"truth."

-----------------------------------------
Research on Poultry Virus Samples Stalled
-----------------------------------------


JAKARTA 00000351 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) In a February 12, 2008 meeting with FAO, Dr. Darminto,
Balitvet Director informed FAO that he no longer will send Balitvet
poultry virus samples to international laboratories because Balitvet
will soon have capacity to conduct necessary research in-house. In
subsequent meetings between USG and MOA, Dr. Darminto appears to be
encouraging other laboratories to follow this lead.

8. (SBU) FAO is working to secure export permits for samples
currently held at various laboratories in Indonesia for the past
eight months. The samples will contribute to a USAID and AusAID
funded project to support development of a poultry vaccine tailored
to the virus currently circulating in Indonesia.

9. (SBU) USAID and partners met with Dr. Tjeppy D Soedjana, the MOA
Director General of Livestock and Dr. Elly Sawitri, the Director of
the Campaign Management Unit on February 18 and they agreed to
expedite export permits for samples held at Disease Investigation
Center laboratories and to work with the Director General Research
and Development to release Balitvet samples. As a research
institute, Balitvet is under the purview of the Director General
Research and Development. Meanwhile, FAO is working to establish
alternative sample collection mechanism for the areas covered byQk}QQQ4Q!QHfQQruary 16. The two new cases
include a three year-old male from South Jakarta who was admitted to
the hospital on February 16 and died on February 18. The second
case involves a 16-year-old male from Solo who checked into the
hospital on February 7 and died on February 10. Both patients lived
in close proximity to chickens. As of February 22, Indonesia has
129 human cases with 105 deaths.

HUME

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