'Next Generation' Smallpox Vaccine Ordered by HHS

Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) smallpox vaccine worth $500 million soon will be added to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, following HHS' award of a contract for that amount to Bavarian Nordic A/S of Copenhagen, Denmark, for 20 million doses. This is a "next generation" vaccine intended for Americans with compromised immune systems in the event of a smallpox outbreak, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced June 4.

"To protect ourselves from the remote but extremely grave threat of a deliberate release of smallpox virus, we need vaccines that can be safely given to all Americans, including individuals with weakened immune systems," he said. "Acquiring a stockpile of this new smallpox vaccine is a key step toward protecting even more members of the American public against a smallpox release." The vaccine contains a weakened form of the vaccinia virus that cannot replicate in humans, HHS said.

The contract was the first under Project BioShield to allow two types of pre-delivery payments, one under the Project BioShield Act of 2004 and the other under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006. "The use of these new authorities under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act further demonstrates our commitment to building improved partnerships with industry," Leavitt said.

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