JAKARTA, April 3 (Reuters) - Indonesia is looking to work with Egypt to produce a human bird flu vaccine, its trade minister said on Tuesday.
Indonesia is the hardest-hit country for human fatalities with 71 victims of the H5N1 virus strain confirmed so far. Egypt has recorded 32 human cases, 13 of them fatal, the highest figures for any country outside Asia.
"Indonesia and Egypt have bird flu cases. But Egypt has more advanced pharmaceutical experience and has produced a variety of vaccines. Thus, the possibility for cooperation is wide open," minister Mari Pangestu told a news conference after a meeting with an Egyptian trade delegation.
"Hopefully, the cooperation can produce a vaccine that is suitable for Indonesia."
The Egyptian delegation led by International Cooperation Minister Fayza Aboulnaga is in Jakarta for three days of talks.
Pangestu gave no details of the plan, but said cooperation in producing a human bird flu vaccine would be part of economic talks between the two countries.
At the moment, there is no vaccine commercially available against H5N1 but several companies are working to develop one.
In February, Indonesia signed a preliminary agreement with a unit of pharmaceutical firm Baxter International under which the Health Ministry"e;s research and development institute would supply the American firm with H5N1 specimens while Baxter would provide technology to help develop a vaccine.
Avian flu still affects mainly wild birds and poultry, but experts fear that if the H5N1 strain mutated into a form easily transmitted from person to person, it could sweep the world, killing millions.