News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Smallpox bioterrorist conference highlights divisions over vaccines

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 23 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:948
  1. Fiona Fleck
  1. Geneva

    Several international experts who met in Geneva this week warned that a bioterrorist attack using smallpox was not only possible but probable. They urged governments to prepare themselves before it was too late.

    But their message was somewhat undermined by the fact that the conference, entitled “Smallpox BioSecurity,” was initiated and financed by Acambis, a US company that manufactures vaccine.

    The conference was also being held only a week after US federal health officials proclaimed that the US smallpox vaccination programme was over.

    “The fact is, it's ceased,” Ray Strikas of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told USA Today (16 October, p A 01). No one had issued an edict to say stop, but the pace of new vaccinations had dropped dramatically in April after well publicised reports of unexpected heart problems, he said. At its peak, hundreds of health workers were vaccinated, …

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