The federal government will purchase 20 million doses of a smallpox vaccine that, in the event of an outbreak, would be used to treat people with compromised immune systems.
The five-year contract with Bavarian Nordic, a Danish pharmaceutical company, is valued at more than $500 million. The contract contains options that could extend its value to $1.6 billion, the company and the Health and Human Services Department announced on Monday.
The smallpox vaccine is a completely new product that will be added to the Strategic National Stockpile. The current stockpile contains enough smallpox vaccine for every American. However, that vaccine was produced using a live, replicating virus, which can be potentially life-threatening in rare instances. Patients, such as those getting chemotherapy, should not get such vaccines in non-emergency cases.
The smallpox vaccine to be purchased from Bavarian Nordic contains a highly weakened form of the virus that cannot replicate in humans. The 20 million doses purchased under the contract would be enough to treat the 10 million people in the U.S. with weakened immune systems.
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