Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ramping up vaccine development is an essential defense to bioterror

The Washington Times runs a “biodefense” op-ed by Bob Graham and Jim Talent on Thursday July 30, “Lessons learned from the anthrax letters: bioattack countermeasures have dual use in disease vaccine research”, p A21, link here.

While discussing the activity of Bruce E. Ivins, the authors note that the perpetrator could have caused results much worse, speculating that a whole city subway could have been shut down for years. They also point out that by way of comparison, “preventing nuclear terrorism is simple” but not “easy”. It’s simply necessary to secure all fissile materials.

For biodefense, the authors mention UN Resolution 1540 and the Biological Weapons Convention, and discuss the critical issue of the trustworthiness of those who work with biohazard materials.

But the authors also believe that by upping our ability to produce and distribute vaccines quickly (perhaps restarting smallpox vaccination), we remove many of the potential biothreats available to future enemies. Handling vaccine developer liability concerns is certainly part of the issue.

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