At the 64th World Health Assembly underway right now in Geneva thru May 24, a major review of smallpox experimentation will be presented where leaders are expected to call for the destruction of all remaining samples, since the disease has not surfaced in over 40 years. Meanwhile, two biopharm companies are in a spat over a US government awarded contract to develop a smallpox vaccine, as the U.S. continues to refuse to submit to international arms control inspections of its “dual use” biodefense-bioweapons labs.
In-Pharma Technologist reports, “On May 13 Siga Technologies revealed the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) had awarded it a five-year, $433m (€306m) contract. However, two days later Siga was forced to suspend work on the contract after Chimerix filed a protest.”
If all the options in the contract are exercised, it is worth $2.8 billion to Siga, In-Pharma explained.
Earlier this year, Chimerix, a Durham, North Carolina firm, won a $24.8 million contract from BARDA, with subsequent options valued at up to $81.1 million, reported WRAL Tech Wire. The BARDA award “adds to $37 million Chimerix previously received from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for development of CMX001 for smallpox.”
Chimerix claims that Siga is not a “small business” under the requirements of such awards. Last year, the Small Business Administration agreed, reports VFC.
It’s likely, though, that both Siga’s ST-246 and Chimerix’ CMX001 will be funded by the US government. BARDA Director Dr. Robin Robinson stated, “A critical component of the U.S. strategy for protecting the public against intentional or unintentional release of the smallpox virus is having two smallpox antiviral drugs.”
The Government Accountability Office is expected to resolve the question in the next three months.
With one-fifth of the nation unemployed, one has to wonder at the federal government using taxpayer dollars to fund vaccine development for a disease that has been officially eradicated. Though the “ancient scourge” has a mortality rate of 25-30 percent, the World Health Organization successfully launched a global eradication program:
Through the success of the global eradication campaign, smallpox was finally pushed back to the horn of Africa and then to a single last natural case, which occurred in Somalia in 1977. A fatal laboratory-acquired case occurred in the United Kingdom in 1978. The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent scientists in December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1980.
In Obama’s Bioweapons Program, Tom Burghardt calls the development of such biological agents, “dual use” in that they can be used for both defense and offense. In that 2009 piece, he notes Obama’s refusal to allow biodefense labs to be inspected under the UN’s Biological Weapons Convention. Quoting from the US’ position paper, he notes:
While the United States claims that it will ‘advance policies and practices that establish and reinforce norms against the misuse of the knowledge and capabilities that arise from the life sciences while encouraging their free and open availability for peaceful and beneficial use,’ a call to ‘develop and employ complementary and multi-layered systems for influencing, identifying, inhibiting, and interdicting biological threats’ does nothing to constrain state or corporate actors from exploiting the life sciences for nefarious ends, to wit, work with dual use select agents that can be diverted into surreptitious weapons’ programs.
This is crucial. While the document asserts that America’s ‘relationships with the United Nations, international organizations, foreign governments, and the private sector are critical to the success of our efforts’ the fact is, the ‘private sector’ and the secret state’s own Defense Department are dead-set against any initiative that give international arms’ control monitors access to their facilities.It should also be noted that vaccines have a high rate of adverse reactions and are not recommended for “pregnant women, persons with immune disorders or experiencing therapeutically-induced immunosuppression, persons with HIV infection, and persons with a history of eczema,” advises WHO.
For decades, the US and Russia have resisted destroying the last remaining smallpox viruses. But this year, a review by World Health Organization public health experts concludes that the viruses serve no essential public health purpose and that continued experimentation with them poses the potentially catastrophic risk of an escape.Smallpox Biosafety expects that the U.S. and Russia will resist the 64th World Health Assembly’s demand for the destruction of all remaining samples, and asks:
2011 may be the year in which smallpox is finally truly eradicated. If not now, when? If not now, then why on earth do Russia and the US want to keep them?
Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites, Food Freedom and COTO Report.
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