233194 11/5/2009 4:44 09BUCHAREST742 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 09BUCHAREST673|09STATE111924 VZCZCXRO9493 OO RUEHIK DE RUEHBM #0742 3090444 ZNR UUUUU ZZH O 050444Z NOV 09 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0037 RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA IMMEDIATE UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000742
STATE FOR EUR A/S GORDON AND EUR/CE ASCHEIBE ALSO FOR OES/IHB SBOGGESS, RSORENSON, AND CSHAPIRO HHS FOR DMILLER, JMARINISSEN, AND BGELLIN
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECON, EINV, TBIO, PGOV, SOCI, AMED, RO SUBJECT: ROMANIA: REQUEST FOR H1N1 VACCINE ASSISTANCE
REF: A) STATE 111924 B) BUCHAREST 673
Sensitive but Unclassified; not for Internet distribution.
1. (SBU) This is an urgent action request; please see paragraph 5.
2. (SBU) The Ambassador was contacted on November 4 by Anca Ilinoiu, Senior Foreign Policy adviser to President Traian Basescu, with a "personal request from the President to President Obama" that the United States agree to provide Romania with one million doses of approved H1N1 vaccine, in exchange for which Romania proposes to deliver an equivalent number of Romanian-produced doses when the domestically produced vaccine receives final approval, probably by the end of November. Ilinoiu explained that H1N1 has become a major public health concern in the last few days, with a spike in reported cases (up to 555 confirmed as of November 3, with the real number suspected to be higher, though no fatalities to date). Romania is also closely monitoring the situation in neighboring Ukraine and Moldova, with a high infection rate and several dozen H1N1-related deaths in western Ukraine of particular concern to Romanian health authorities, Ilinoiu said.
3. (SBU) This request comes against the backdrop of sensationalist news headlines and growing unease in Romania over H1N1. Romanian confidence in the decrepit public health system is very low, and the quick uptick in cases has come in concert with public finger pointing among presidential candidates over H1N1 preparations, particularly with the Ministry of Health under caretaker supervision by the Minister of Economy. Romania's government-run Cantacuzino Institute is already manufacturing a vaccine, but the Government has been caught flat-footed with at least one million vaccine doses on hand but no final regulatory approval to allow distribution. Plans by the Ministry of Health to attempt commercial purchases of already approved H1N1 vaccine were halted once it became clear that no outside vaccine would be available for purchase until sometime in 2010.
4. (SBU) Post understands from Ref A that Romania is not on a priority list of countries to receive donated vaccine doses from the WHO. However, in this case, Romania is requesting a one-for-one swap, not donated stocks. The Cantacuzino National Infectious Disease Research Institute, which is producing the Romanian version of H1N1 vaccine, has a long history of fruitful cooperation with the U.S. and European Centers for Disease Control, and the vaccine they are manufacturing will likely receive regulatory approval in the coming weeks.
5. (SBU) Action Request: Post requests guidance from Washington agencies on how to respond to this urgent request from the Romanian President. If some kind of swap of vaccines is feasible -- including a possibility that Romania could contribute vaccines to the WHO effort to supplement U.S. contributions, especially if we can urge Ukraine to take advantage of the fact that they are on the list of countries eligible for WHO assistance for vaccines -- post requests Washington's advice on how the Romanians might conclude such an arrangement.