TAIPEI -- Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday called for cross-Strait cooperation on the development of a vaccine to prevent the spread of H7N9, which has killed eight people on the mainland.
Ma said he hopes a vaccine for the newly discovered strain of avian influenza can be developed through a cross-Strait cooperation mechanism, based on a medical cooperation agreement signed in December 2010.
The vaccine could be developed within a few months with samples of the H7N9 avian influenza virus, Ma said while meeting with experts from the Hoover Institution.
A health official in Taiwan said the mainland side has agreed to provide samples of the virus.
As of Monday, the number of people infected on the mainland had risen to 24, according to the mainland's National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Although there have been no human infections reported on the island, Taiwan has enhanced surveillance and intensified the sanitization of poultry farms as preventative efforts.
The island's disease control authority said Tuesday that three of 10 suspected cases of H7N9 bird flu infections in people reported over the preceding 24 hours have been ruled out. The remaining seven cases are still being tested.