The man who advises the government on how to tackle the forecast swine flu epidemic has shares in a company researching a flu vaccine, the Telegraaf reports on Wednesday.
The government has agreed to buy 34 million doses of flu vaccine – or two per head of the population – partly on the advice of chief virologist Ab Osterhaus.
MPs are furious at Osterhaus’ double role and have called on the government to take action. ‘This is unacceptable. An entire population takes his advice. I no longer trust him,’ Fleur Agema of the anti-immigration PVV, told the paper.
Osterhaus is a professor at Erasmus MC university teaching hospital in Rotterdam and devotes one day a week to a university-owned company called ViroClinics, in which he has an almost 10% stake.
Anton Westerlaken, chairman of Erasmus MC, told the Telegraaf professors have to become a shareholder in any company set up under university auspices to exploit a patent. Any profits are divided 80% to the university and 20% to the professors involved, he said.
Osterhaus told the paper he had done nothing wrong. ‘I have always said I am involved in that company and shares are all in the game,’ he said. The paper points out that earlier this year Osterhaus denied having any shares in companies which may be involved in developing flu vaccines.
‘I do not have any shares. I am trying to prepare the country for what lies ahead. That is my job,’ he told the paper at the time.