Key workers get bird flu drug first

London: Supplies of anti-viral drugs to combat the deadly bird flu being forecast by scientists are in such short supply in the UK they will only be given to key people such as politicans and police in an outbreak, it was claimed today.

It is estimated that the UK only has enough drugs to protect less than two per cent of the population for one week should the country be hit by an avian flu pandemic.

The UK’s Department of Health has ordered 14.6 million doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug thought to be effective against the H5N1 strain, but only 900,000 doses are currently held. The rest will not be delivered until mid 2007.

Doctors have warned against people hoarding the vaccine because it would stop those who need it getting treatment.

The lethal bird virus has killed 120 people so far, mainly in Asia, where they are believed to have come into close contact with infected birds. Scientists are monitoring the wild bird population whom it is feared may spread the virus into domestically reared poultry and fowl.

Those with a healthy immune system will likely be most resistant to this flu.