World Bank: Few Nations Have Paid Bird Flu Bill

Only a small number of the countries that pledged nearly $2 billion in January to fight bird flu have paid out their full commitments, a World Bank draft report says.

About $286 million of the $1.9 billion in pledges has been disbursed, according to a draft of the report written for a meeting Wednesday in Vienna and obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

Of the 34 donors that gathered in Beijing in January to find ways to fight the virus that has killed at least 127 people since late 2003, Japan, Switzerland, Finland and the Czech Republic have met their commitments, the report said.

Japan paid out nearly $158 million; Switzerland $4.7 million; Finland $3.4 million; the Czech Republic $200,000, the report said.

Bird flu is difficult for humans to catch, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form more easily transmissible between humans, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.

The United States has disbursed about $71 million out of a pledge of $334 million, the report said.