US embassy cable - 06TOKYO594

AVIAN INFLUENZA: TOKYO WEEKLY FEBRUARY 2

Identifier: 06TOKYO594
Wikileaks: View 06TOKYO594 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tokyo
Created: 2006-02-02 08:48:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: TBIO KFLU KSTH ECON PREL SOCI WHO JA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO9625
PP RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHPB
DE RUEHKO #0594/01 0330848
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020848Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8205
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 4394
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 4488
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 7042
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 7453
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 5600
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 8181
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000594 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR OES/IHA POWELL, SINGER AND FENDRICK 
DEPT FOR EAP/J 
USDA PASS TO APHIS 
HHS PASS TO CDC 
HHS FOR OGHA STEIGER, BHAT AND ELVANDER 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO, KFLU, KSTH, ECON, PREL, SOCI, WHO, JA 
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: TOKYO WEEKLY FEBRUARY 2 
 
REF: A. 05 STATE 153802 
B. TOKYO 435 AND PREVIOUS 
 
TOKYO 00000594  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. No human outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza (AI) were 
reported in Japan during the past week. 
 
-- MHLW Briefing on AI to Diplomatic Community -- 
 
2. On January 26, ESToff attended a Diplomatic Briefing 
Session hosted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare 
(MHLW) during which the Ministry's Tuberculosis and 
Infectious Diseases Control Office gave an overview of the 
GOJ's Pandemic Preparedness Action Plan.  MHLW has released 
an English translation of its 79-page plan which can be 
found on the Ministry's website: 
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/influenz a/index.html 
 
3. The official presenting explained that MHLW released the 
plan in mid-November (first reported in 05 Tokyo 6267) and 
starting in December, the plan was applied to all GOJ 
ministries and agencies.  It is based on the assumption 
that up to 25 million individuals will become infected by 
H5N1 during a pandemic in Japan, and is divided into two 
major operational phases addressing the measures that are 
necessary to prevent an outbreak and those that are needed 
after an outbreak occurs. 
 
4. As reported by Embassy Tokyo earlier, Japan is currently 
in phase 3-A, or "human infection with a new subtype, but 
no human-to-human spread, no infection in Japan."  The 
action plan calls for the following steps to be taken 
during this phase (additional comments made by the briefing 
official follow in parenthesis): 
 
-   Develop the government's action plQ.  (This process is 
mostly complete). 
-   Alert overseas travelers. (The GOJ has been doing this 
by posting information at Quarantine Stations and on the 
Ministry's website.) 
-   Ensure preventative measures against the outbreak of 
highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry flocks, 
particularly through guidance and support of farmers in the 
implementation of prevention measures.  (The Ministry of 
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has the lead here.) 
-   Manufacture and stock a prototype vaccine source for 
the possible need of vaccination, and plan measures to 
secure eggs for the production of vaccines in the case of a 
pandemic.  (The Ministry is now studying ways to ensure an 
adequate supply of eggs.  Relating to the issue of 
vaccines, ESToff asked if the Ministry was actively 
researching cell-based vaccine production, but the official 
only mentioned egg-based vaccines in her response.) 
-   Determine the amount of oseltamivir phosphate (a.k.a. 
Tamiflu) to be secured and stockpile it.  (MHLW has already 
allocated a budget for this). 
-   Strengthen the capacity of designated medical 
facilities that are responsible for the care and treatment 
of new influenza patients and request that they secure the 
necessary medical materials.  (Local governments are 
working to strengthen their capacity to deal with a 
pandemic). 
-   Provide information on HPAI to Japanese citizens as 
well as Japanese residing in countries where the outbreak 
is observed. 
 
5. The briefing official said that MHLW is currently in the 
process of developing more detailed guidelines to 
supplement the plan and is working on preparing for the 
next phase (or 4/4A).  She asked the representatives of the 
twenty-three countries in attendance for their cooperation 
in sharing information on national plans and the virus in 
the future. 
 
-- Clinical Trials on AI Vaccine to Begin Soon -- 
 
6. On January 29, the Yomiuri Newspaper reported that the 
National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) along with 
Japan's four vaccine producers would begin clinical trials 
 
TOKYO 00000594  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
of a prototype avian influenza vaccine sometime this month. 
Though it is difficult to produce an effective pandemic 
influenza vaccine without the actual virus, NIID has 
determined that it is still useful to stockpile a prototype 
to be used in an emergency to inoculate medical workers on 
a priority basis.  If everything goes according to plan, 
the expectation is that the GOJ would give its approval to 
produce the vaccine by 2007. 
 
7. Because the makers cannot manufacture the prototype 
vaccine between April and September - or the manufacturing 
period for the seasonal flu vaccine - they would like to 
begin preparations for pandemic vaccine production starting 
this Fall even before the government issues its approval. 
In addition, because the virus has the ability to easily 
mutate, the researchers plan to use the most recent 
Indonesia strain of H5N1. 
 
-- AI Quick Detection Kit -- 
 
8. MHLW has started work on developing a test kit to detect 
the possible presence of pandemic influenza within ten to 
fifteen minutes.  The kit can indicate a possible infection 
by testing mucus taken from the back of the throat.  The 
Ministry believes that prompt diagnosis will help medical 
authorities detect AI patients quickly and would be useful 
to prevent pandemic influenza from spreading widely.  The 
National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) will lead 
the project.  NIID aims to reach the final stages of 
development for the technology by April 2006. 
 
SCHIEFFER 

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