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In early 2007, the Indonesian government decided to withhold its samples of the avian influenza (‘bird flu’) virus from WHO’s collaborating centres, pending a new global mechanism for virus sharing which would provide better terms for developing countries. The 60th World Health Assembly held in May 2007 subsequently resolved to establish an international stockpile of avian influenza vaccines, and to formulate mechanisms for equitable access to these vaccines. The article asks whether there are there analogous opportunities for study volunteers or donors of biological materials to exercise corresponding leverage to advance health equity.

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