U.S. stockpile receives smallpox vaccine

The first vaccine to be developed for civilian bioterrorism preparedness programs has been delivered to the U.S. stockpile, according to a CQ Healthbeat News report.

Officials with Bavarian Nordic, a Danish biotech company, told CQ Healthbeat News they began shipping their smallpox vaccine, Imvamune, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national stockpile.

The stockpile is a reserve of medicines for use in the event of a biological attack on the United States.

The stockpile contains enough of the smallpox vaccine to inoculate an entire population. Officials said, however, that the doses are made from a live replicating virus, called  a vaccinia, that can cause severe side effects in a small portion of the population, including those with compromised immune systems, the report stated.

Bavarian Nordic officials said their new vaccine lacks the ability to reproduce in human cells, meaning it can be used by people who normally wouldn’t be eligible.

Bavarian Nordic CEO Anders Hedegaard told CQ Healthbeat News that the success was made possible due to funding from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and Health and Human Services Department.

John Clerici, a founding principal of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Tiber Creek Partners, said he is also pleased with the progress and said he will be watching as the Obama administration begins a review of  biological countermeasures.

“I think it’s a good sign that, hopefully, whatever comes out with this review that’s being conducted, that it doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” Clerici said. “It takes a long time to get an agency up and running and companies that have made the commitment are now beginning to see the fruits of their labor.”