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Cablegate: Hhs Delegation Hears Russian Views On Joint Smallpox

VZCZCXRO8610
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1420/01 1411254
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201254Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8176
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 5269
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0169
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0820
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4389
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 1543
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0445
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0297
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RHEFAFM/DIRAFMIC FT DETRICK MD//MA-1//
RHMFIUU/DTRA ALEX WASHINGTON DC//CT//
RHEFSNG/HMSNG WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001420

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FAS FOR OSTA/MACKE, WRIGHT, ROSENBLUM;
- OCRA/FLEMINGS; OA
HHS FOR OGHA AND ASPR
FAS PASS FSIS AND APHIS
SECDEF FOR OSD
STATE FOR ISN/CTR, G/AIAG, EB/TPP/ATP, EB/TPP/BTA, OES/STC
VIENNA PASS APHIS/TANAKA, BRUSSELS PASS
- APHIS/FERNANDEZ
USDOC 3150/DAVID FULTON/MOLLY COSTA/ITA/CS/OIO/EUR
GENEVA PASS HEALTH ATTACHE
DEPARTMENT PASS USAID FOR GH/RCS/EE/ROSENBERG
CDC ATLANTA PASS SEPRL FOR DAVID SUAREZ AND INGER DAMON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR PREL PGOV WHO RS
SUBJECT: HHS DELEGATION HEARS RUSSIAN VIEWS ON JOINT SMALLPOX
RESEARCH AND AVIAN AND PANDEMIC INFLUENZA

REFS: A. Moscow 1000
B. Vladivostok 39
C. 07 Moscow 3379

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Delegation led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Preparedness Gerald Parker visited Moscow and St. Petersburg May 4-7
to meet with senior GOR health officials to discuss the current
state of smallpox research and avian and pandemic influenza
surveillance and preparedness. Gennadidy Onishchenko, Russia's
Chief Medical Officer and Head of the Federal Surveillance Service
for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being
(Rospotrebnadzor), stated that the GOR would approve at least two of
three proposed U.S-Russian joint smallpox research projects, but
would not commit to a timetable for approval of the projects. While
the GOR agrees with the USG view that the two declared smallpox
repositories in the United States and Russia should not be
destroyed, Russian health officials did not share our sense of
urgency about restarting joint research and appeared unconcerned
about the growing chorus of nations at the World Health Assembly
calling for destruction of the smallpox repositories. GOR officials
welcomed collaboration with U.S. officials and health specialists on
avian and pandemic influenza preparedness. END SUMMARY.

-----------------
Smallpox Research
-----------------

2. (SBU) An HHS Delegation led by HHS PDAS Parker visited Moscow and
St. Petersburg May 4-7 to discuss the status of smallpox research
and avian and pandemic influenza surveillance and preparedness with
Rospotrebnadzor Head Onishchenko, Deputy Minister of Health and
Social Development Ruslan Khalfin, the Director of the Ivanovskiy
Institute of Virology Dmitriy L'vov, and the Director of the
Research Institute of Influenza Oleg Kiselev.

3. (SBU) Onishchenko stated that the GOR would approve at least two
of the proposed joint U.S.-Russia smallpox research projects, but
refused to say when the projects would be approved, even when
pressed by the HHS delegation. Onishchenko noted that the GOR had
concerns about the third project, research on smallpox antivirals,
but he refused to elaborate on the concerns, and stated that the
project was still under GOR review.

4. (SBU) After the World Health Assembly May 19-24 in Geneva,
Onishchenko stated that the GOR would like to begin discussions with
the United State on a joint resolution commemorating the 30th
anniversary of the eradication of smallpox in 2010 and the WHO-led
scientific review of smallpox research. Onishchenko also invited
PDAS Parker to visit the Vector State Research Center for Virology
and Biotechnology near Novosibirsk later this year, after the
inauguration of President-Elect Medvedev but before the United
States' political transition in January 2009. PDAS Parker invited
Onishchenko to visit both the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in Atlanta (CDC) and HHS headquarters in Washington to
discuss continued collaboration on live smallpox research and other
matters of public health preparedness. Onishchenko noted that while
he would like to visit both HHS and CDC, he was unsure when that

MOSCOW 00001420 002 OF 002


could occur.

5. (SBU) Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development Khalfin
confirmed that Onishchenko had the authority to address the smallpox
research agenda and joint projects with the United States. He
stated that the GOR shared the USG view that destruction of the
smallpox repositories was premature and should not be placed on the
WHO agenda.

----------------------------
Avian and Pandemic Influenza
----------------------------

6. (SBU) Rospotrebnadzor Head Onishchenko briefed PDAS Parker on the
GOR's application to establish Vector as a WHO reference lab and
collaborating center for avian influenza (Ref C). He noted that
Vector's location in central Siberia placed it at the "epicenter of
migratory bird patterns" and, unlike other WHO Collaborating
Centers, Siberia was not an "accidentally chosen" location for avian
influenza (AI) research. Regardless whether Vector ultimately
achieves recognition as a WHO collaborating center for AI, the GOR
would be interested in fostering collaborative AI research projects
between leading U.S. institutes and Vector, but Onishchenko did not
mention the potential for collaboration with Russia's other two
established national influenza centers in Moscow and St.
Petersburg.

7. (SBU) Ivanovskiy Institute of Virology Director Dmitriy L'vov
warned that the latest AI outbreak in the Russian Far East (Refs A,
B) indicates that AI is now circulating among migratory birds in the
Pacific Ocean region, raising the potential that AI could reach
Alaska within the next several months as migratory birds from Russia
cross the Bering Strait to Alaska. L'vov expressed a strong desire
to collaborate with the United States in AI research.

8. (SBU) Research Institute of Influenza Director Oleg Kiselev
stated that a private Russian firm was investing in the institute to
build vaccine production capacity for manufacturing its proprietary
H5N1 AI vaccine. Kiselev stated that the GOR had not yet finalized
its draft national pandemic influenza preparedness plan, and he
understood that approval of the draft plan had been pending with
Onishchenko since 2006. Kiselev also expressed a strong interest in
collaborating with the United States on AI research and pandemic
preparedness.

--------
COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) The GOR's unwillingness to commit to a timetable for
approving the proposed joint smallpox research projects indicates
that leading health officials are not concerned by the growing
chorus of nations at the World Health Assembly calling for the
destruction of the declared smallpox repositories in the United
States and Russia. They also do not share our sense of urgency
about restarting joint smallpox research as the best way to present
a strong argument against smallpox destruction.

RUSSELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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