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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BUDAPEST322
2009-04-28 12:13:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Budapest
Cable title:  

MGSF01: HUNGARY OFFERS VACCINE PRODUCTION

Tags:   KFLU  AEMR  ASEC  CASC  KFLO  TBIO  KSAF  KPAO  PREL 
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VZCZCXRO0764
OO RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHUP #0322/01 1181213
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281213Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4118
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE 0085
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUDAPEST 000322 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SWINE FLU MONITORING GROUP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU AEMR ASEC CASC KFLO TBIO KSAF KPAO PREL
PINR, AMGT, MG, HU
SUBJECT: MGSF01: HUNGARY OFFERS VACCINE PRODUCTION
CAPACITY, SEEKS VIRUS SAMPLES

REF: STATE 42349



1. (U) This is an action request. See para 7.



2. (SBU) Begin Summary: On April 27, Hungarian officials
contacted Charge and ESTH Hub Officer to bring to their
attention Hungarian vaccine production capabilities.
Hungary has the technical expertise and the
infrastructure to produce large quantities of vaccine at
Omninvest's production facility near Budapest (a for-
profit public-private partnership), and the GOH says it
is willing to help the U.S., Mexico or another country
by selling or sharing its proprietary vaccine development
technology. While post is familiar with this company,
questions about its ownership have been raised by the
press. The GOH is seeking USG assistance in obtaining flu
samples to enable testing of the technology on this
particular virus to confirm it can produce a viable
vaccine. End summary.



3. (SBU) On April 27, Abel Garamhegyi, Deputy State
Secretary for Foreign Economic Affairs at the Ministry of
Economy, offered Hungary,s technical expertise and
production capacity to develop, test and manufacture
large quantities of swine flu vaccine if the U.S. or
another country is interested. Garamhegyi confirmed to
ESTH FSN that he is offering Hungary,s patented
technology for fast vaccine production directly from a
live virus sample. Garamhegyi says he can produce
peer-reviewed scientific publications documenting the
success of this technology. Garamhegyi requested USG
help to obtain a sample of the current strain of swine
flu so that Hungary can test the technology to confirm
that it will work on this particular virus. Once a
vaccine has been developed and tested, Hungary would be
willing to share or sell its know-how to interested
foreign partners. Also on April 27, Dr. Ferenc Falus,
Chief Medical Officer of Hungary, contacted ESTH Hub
Officer seeking USG assistance in obtaining a sample of
the swine flu for use in vaccine production.



4. (U) Post's ESTH staff can confirm that Hungary has
the technical expertise and the infrastructure for
large-scale vaccine production. A company called
Omninvest produces Hungary,s seasonal flu vaccines in a
2000 square meter facility in Pilisborosjeno, near
Budapest. Omninvest, which has a long-term strategic
agreement with the GOH to produce vaccines as part of
Hungary,s Pandemic Plan, developed Hungary,s patented
vaccine technology as part of a multi-year government-
funded research and development program.



5. (SBU) According to Falus, following a preparatory
period of two to three months, Hungary could scale up
to production of 500,000 doses of vaccine per week.
This capacity would be sufficient to meet expected
domestic demand in a pandemic, but might not be enough
for exports as well - hence the Hungarian interest in
marketing their technology when it is proven effective
on this virus strain rather than manufacturing the
vaccine for the export market. As of April 27, there
were no/no reported current cases of swine flu in
Hungary.



6. (U) At a press conference on April 27, Minister of
Health Tamas Szekely told the press that Hungary is
trying to obtain samples of the virus through
"diplomatic channels" so that it can test its
technology and subsequently assist affected countries.



7. (U) ACTION REQUEST: Please advise how we should
respond to the GOH request and provide an appropriate
POC to whom we can direct the GOH for follow-up.



8. (SBU) Comment: FCS notes that Omninvest has been
around for four years and has not been able to
successfully market its technology. Given the
presence of major multinational pharmaceutical-biotech
companies in Hungary, we are unclear as to why this is.
Given the GOH's investment in Omninvest, it is easy to
understand its interest in marketing this technology.
Provision of government funding to Omninvest has been
widely criticized in the media because ownership of the
firm is less than transparent (98% owned by Sumpter

BUDAPEST 00000322 002 OF 002


Pharmaceuticals, a Cyprus-based offshore company about
which little information is publicly available, and
2% owned by Hungarian businessman Tamas Laczko). The
press also widely panned this significant - for
Hungary - level of government funding for research
because the program has yielded no discernable benefit
to the public. Marketing swine flu vaccine production
technology to other countries would offer an
opportunity for Omninvest (and the GOH) to demonstrate
to the public that government funding of Omninvest,s
research has produced a result, as well as providing
a useful source of extra cash in difficult economic
times. End comment.



9. (U) POCs in Budapest: Until May 15, POC is ESTH Hub
Officer Camille Hill (tel. 36-1-475-4956; email
HIllCD21@state.gov) until May 15 when she departs post;
after May 15 POC is incoming Budapest ESTH Hub Officer
Sam Kotis, (tel. 36-1-475-4956; email Kotiss@state.gov).
Levine