Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 2 News List

CDC monitoring supplies to fight spread of bird flu

EFFECTIVE MEASURES?A CDC official said that while some of its stockpile of N95 masks and Tamiflu have passed their expiry dates, they would still be effective

CNA , TAIPEI

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has updated the effectiveness of most of the country's stockpile of bird flu-fighting supplies, including masks and medicine, in an effort to ensure that people are fully prepared in the event of an avian flu pandemic, an official said yesterday.

CDC Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said that although some of the stockpile of 3.5 million N95 masks and 2.2 million doses of the influenza drug Tamiflu have passed their expiration dates, the supplies are still being stored after it was determined that they are still effective.

Mask tests

Shih said the center has had the nearly expired N95 masks examined in laboratories every three months since last September and has destroyed those that are no longer effective.

Currently, the CDC's stockpile of effective N95 masks totals about 3.5 million, including 600,000 stored at the CDC and 2.9 million kept by local governments around the country. That is enough for Taiwan over the next three years under normal conditions, he said.

Meanwhile, the CDC has a stockpile of 2.23 million doses of Tamiflu capsules or powder -- an amount enough to be used by 10 percent of the population should a bird flu pandemic break out.

Still in storage

Last August, some 110,000 doses of Tamiflu passed their expiration date according to their manufacturing dates, Shih said.

These doses, however, have been kept in storage after being examined in laboratories and found to be still effective, he added.

The government has heightened bird-flu prevention to the level of national security, thus making N95 masks and Tamiflu strategic materials.

Health authorities believe the avian flu virus could kill a large number of people in the country if the government does not stockpile enough of the drug for use during an outbreak.

Taiwan began to stockpile N95 masks and Tamiflu in early 2003 after the SARS outbreak.

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