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China deserves credit for rapid response to bird flu

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-25 02:52

LONDON - The reputed scientific journal Nature published an editorial on Wednesday, praising China's response to H7N9 avian influenza as "next to exemplary".

"China deserves credit for its rapid response to the outbreaks of H7N9 avian influenza, and its early openness in the reporting and sharing of data," Nature said in an editorial titled "The Fight Against Bird Flu."

According to the editorial, China reported the H7N9 outbreak to the WHO in timely manner, published the genomic sequences of viruses and shared all the sequences with relevant organizations and labs, which has allowed scientists to identify the virus's mutations, trace its origins and develop crucial diagnostic tests.

The editorial noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an effective response for the disease, saying the government must ensure the release of accurate information about the outbreaks.

Nature said it was "unfair" that some critics questioned the outbreak announcement was deliberately delayed. "With just a handful of severe pneumonia cases caused by the virus by mid-March, it is impressive that China realized as quickly as it did that something was amiss," said the editorial.

"It took the United States, which has one of the world's most advanced disease-surveillance systems, an almost identical amount of time to identify a novel H3N2 swine virus that caused serious illness in a child in 2011."

The editorial, meanwhile, also suggested that data made public on human cases should be more detailed and that sequences from as many cases as possible should be submitted to publicly accessible databases. "Observers should continue to scrutinize China's response to H7N9, but they should also give credit where credit is due," the editorial added.

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