Combination smallpox-anthrax vaccine developed

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A U.S. government team has developed a new dual vaccine that they say will protect against both smallpox and anthrax better than existing vaccines. The new combination vaccine can be freeze-dried and stockpiled for rapid delivery in the event of a bioterrorist attack, the researchers write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1979 after former ACSH advisor D. A. Henderson led a global vaccination campaign, but experts fear extremists or a rogue government could get their hands on samples cultured by the Soviet Union. Anthrax occurs naturally in the wild and can be turned into a biological weapon.

This is good news, Dr. Whelan says. While it s unlikely that we would need this new dual vaccine, having it readily available is comforting.

Check out previous ACSH publications for more information on anthrax and terrorism preparedness.