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NIAID study results support diluting smallpox vaccine stockpile to stretch supply

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that results from a key clinical trial indicate that the existing U.S. supply of smallpox vaccine-15.4 million doses-could successfully be diluted up to five times and retain its potency, effectively expanding the number of individuals it could protect from the contagious disease.

The public health implications of this study are enormously important, said Secretary Thompson. We now know that in the unlikely event of an intentional release of smallpox, our stockpile of smallpox vaccine can be expanded fivefold as we had planned. The success of this study puts us one step closer to our goal of having enough vaccine for every American if needed to respond to a potential outbreak.

Expanding the U.S. smallpox vaccine supply has been a high-priority of the HHS bioterrorism preparedness plan. In addition to expanding the existing supply of vaccine through dilution, HHS has contracted with Acambis Inc. to produce another 209 million doses of smallpox vaccine by the end of 2002. The combination of these efforts would bring the total number of doses in the smallpox vaccine stockpile to at least 286 million, and the Acambis contract gives the federal government the option to purchase even more vaccine quickly.

These encouraging results suggest that we can do more with less and thereby extend our capacity to contain a potential smallpox outbreak, said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which funded the research. Although the likelihood of a deliberate release of smallpox is very small, it is prudent to be prepared.

The trial compared the full-strength vaccine with fivefold, as well as tenfold, dilutions in 680 young adults with no history of smallpox vaccination. More than 97 percent of all participants in the trial responded with a vaccine take, a blister-like sore at the injection site that serves as an indirect measure o
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Contact: Laurie K. Doepel
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
28-Mar-2002


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