Although the Singapore meeting was privately described by one WHO official as an attempt to "ambush" the Indonesian negotiator, the ambush backfired when Indonesia tabled a detailed proposal to restructure the WHO system, including material transfer agreements, improved access to vaccines, and new terms of reference to govern the relationships between the WHO, GISN
labs, industry and developing countries.
WHO's acknowledgment that patents had been sought on modified versions of influenza (H5N1) samples shared through the Global Influenza Surveillance Network (GISN) without the consent of the countries that supplied the samples reinforced Indonesia's discontent.
The WHA resolution sets out a series of actions to achieve both "the timely sharing of viruses and specimens" in GISN and the promotion of "transparent, fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the generation of information, diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and other technologies" (1).
Particularly important are the requests for the director-general to convene a) a working group to review, and propose reforms for, the sharing of influenza viruses and their use within and outside GISN; and b) an intergovernmental working group to consider progress being made toward the resolution's goals, especially fair and equitable access to influenza vaccine for developing countries.
International sharing of influenza virus samples has occurred for decades within GISN (11).
This claim cut against the ethos and practice of sample sharing under which GISN had operated.
GISN was not organized under treaty law, so no countries had treaty obligations to share samples.