The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed on Wednesday to fund an initiative that could create a regulatory pathway allowing the World Health Organization (WHO) to deploy medical countermeasures internationally in the event of an emergency.
The HHS agreement seeks to use the smallpox vaccine as a case study, creating a smallpox vaccine product review for vaccines included or pledged to the WHO smallpox vaccine emergency stockpile. It also establishes procedures for authorization of the use of emergency medical countermeasures and supports WHO member states in their efforts to build capacities for importing, registering and using emergency medical countermeasures.
The agreement is part of the Global Health Security Initiative’s (GHSI) work regarding international deployment of medical countermeasures and is a step toward GHSI’s goal of improving global access to countermeasures in health emergencies.
It also aligns with the HHS Global Health Strategy priority to create policies, agreements and plans that assist in decision-making responses to international requests for help – including requests for medical countermeasures and assistance from HHS personnel.Smallpox is classified by the CDC as a category A bioterror agent.