Replacement for smallpox vaccine found

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Washington, Jan 10: Researchers have found a potential alternative to the existing smallpox vaccine, which causes serious complications in some people.

Philip Felgner and Huw Davies with the Department of Medicine, University of California have shown the effectiveness of a potential alternative to the existing smallpox vaccine that can replace the current biodefense stockpile for this lethal virus.

They found that the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) produced the same antiviral response in human and animal studies as the current smallpox vaccine, Dryvax, Science Daily reported.

The study is part of a national effort to develop a replacement for the Dryvax vaccine.

Smallpox was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980; the last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977.

Routine vaccination against smallpox in the US stopped in 1972, and Dryvax production was halted in 1982.

Although Dryvax was effective during the eradication campaign in the 1960s and '70s, its manufacturing methods are outdated by today's standards, and it is also associated with significant risk of adverse reactions for some individuals.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, identified MVA as a possible candidate to replace Dryvax. MVA was first developed in the 1970s and has been administered to animal species and humans with little or no adverse side effects.


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