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HEALTH

Corruption concern over bulk vaccine buy

Anti-corruption commentators are concerned that the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) underpinned one of its most expensive vaccine campaigns to date with feedback from several experts with clear ties to the vaccine industry

Corruption concern over bulk vaccine buy

A review by the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper shows that the Board did follow its own 2005 transparency rule where experts have to declare any potential conflicts of interests (jäv).

Yet, the expert group assembled in 2006 to discuss whether to give Swedish teenage girls access to a human papiloma virus (HPV) vaccine, which can protect women from cervical cancer later in life, still included three members with clear ties to commercial actors.

“Being open about potential conflicts of interests is not enough,” Nils Blom, head legal councillor at the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet), told SvD.

“Every state authority then has to make a judgment about how strong those ties are and how it affects its impartiality.”

In the end, Sweden bought the vaccine, given to 12-13-year-old girls, in a deal worth more than the entire national vaccine program at the time, according to SvD’s calculations.

SvD reported that there was very little documentation from the discussions of the expert group. The reporters could not get hold of agendas or minutes from the meetings.

One member has ties to the vaccine company Merck, while his wife is a Brussels lobbyist working with the issue of cervical cancer.

Another expert, a paediatric professor, has given lectures to industry actors for more than two decades.

The third person highlighted by SvD’s review work for Smittskydsinstitutet but gets 25 percent of her income from a whooping cough project that is financed by vaccine companies.

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HEALTH

Sweden records world’s first case of bird flu in a porpoise

A porpoise found stranded on a Swedish beach in June died of bird flu, the first time the virus has been detected in one of the marine mammals, Sweden's National Veterinary Institute said on Wednesday.

Sweden records world's first case of bird flu in a porpoise

“As far as we know this is the first confirmed case in the world of bird flu in a porpoise,” veterinarian Elina Thorsson said in a statement. “It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds,” she said.

The young male was found stranded, alive, on a beach in western Sweden in late June. Despite efforts from the public to get it to swim out to deeper
waters, it was suffering from exhaustion and died the same evening.

The bird flu virus, H5N1, was found in several of its organs. “Contrary to seals, where illnesses caused by a flu virus have been detected multiple times, there have been only a handful of reports of flu virus in cetaceans”, Thorsson said.

The virus has also previously been detected in other mammals, including red foxes, otters, lynx and skunks, the institute said.

Europe and North America are currently seeing a vast outbreak of bird flu among wild birds.

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