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Britain exported infected blood products to India

London, September 27
Britain has exported blood products that could be contaminated with the human form of mad cow disease to at least 11 countries, including India, raising fears of further transmission of the deadly disease, a leading daily reported today.

Last week, officials contacted five of the countries identified as ‘most at risk’ from imported blood products, which were donated by nine persons who died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD), The Times reported.

However, the government has been accused of ‘lethal secrecy’ following its refusal to publicly identify the five nations, which have been the subject of risk assessments by the Health Protection Agency.

The exports of suspect products were effected in late 1990s.

Warnings were issued after coming into light of the cases of two British last year, where people were thought to have contracted the brain-wasting disease from blood transfusions.

Besides India, where 953 vials of albumin was sent, other 10 recipient countries are Ireland (polio vaccine, 83,500 doses), Brazil (44,864 vials albumin, 80 vials immunoglobulin), Dubai (2,400 vials albumin), Turkey (840 vials immunoglobulin), Brunei (400 vials albumin), Egypt (144 vials albumin), Morocco (100 vials albumin), Oman (100 vials immunoglobulin), Russia (23 vials factor VIII) and Singapore (three vials immunoglobulin).

A spokesman of the Department of Health defended the decision not to name the countries. Such action was not felt appropriate, he said, and it was up to the countries in question to take action should they wish to do so.

Patient bodies and politicians condemned the government’s secrecy as a face-saving strategy that could hamper proper surveillance of a fatal and incurable infection.

Of the more than 150 persons who have died of the disease worldwide to date, 143 have been from the UK.

Frances Hall, secretary of the Human BSE Foundation, which represents families of victims, said the government refusal to reveal countries most at risk was irresponsible to the population at large. Ms Hall’s son, Peter, died of the disease at the age of 20 in 1996. — PTI

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