Senator Markey Seeks Information on U.S. Efforts to Obtain Samples of Dangerous H7N9 Avian Flu Virus from the Chinese Government


For more than a year, China has refused to provide access to samples that are critical to developing vaccines and treatments


Washington (October 11, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Ranking Member of its East Asia Subcommittee, wrote the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today seeking information on U.S. government efforts to obtain lab samples of H7N9 avian flu from the Chinese government. The latest outbreak of H7N9 avian flu in 2016 in China was the largest and most devastating wave of infections to date, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this strain has the greatest potential to cause a pandemic. According to media reports, U.S. health authorities have been trying for more than a year to obtain samples of this dangerous virus, but China has refused to provide access. Lab samples are needed to develop vaccines and treatments that could protect against a global pandemic. In the past, exchanges of lab samples like this have been routine under rules established by the World Health Organization.


In his letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Senator Markey requests information about the communications HHS has received from China and how HHS is coordinating with the State Department, the National Security Council, and other federal agencies to obtain the samples needed to develop the appropriate protections against this deadly virus.  


“Global preparedness for this biological threat should not be jeopardized by Chinese political maneuvering or ongoing trade disputes between the United States and China,” Senator Markey wrote. “A global outbreak of H7N9 avian flu would be catastrophic, and the United States must be prepared for this potential threat.”


A copy of the letter can be read HERE.