Scientists describe anthrax vaccine as an outdated 'disgusting mix'
May 25, 1998
By Rod Hafemeister
Belleville News-Democrat

Researchers have described the anthrax vaccine the  Pentagon  intends  to give millions  of  troops  as  "1950s  technology  unimpeded  by  medical progress."

Critics have called it a "disgusting mix" and a "soup" because the manufacturing process leaves often unknown  compounds in the vaccine.

It is made by growing a weakened strain of anthrax  bacteria, killing the bacteria and  filtering out  a protein called protective antigen, or P.A.

Researchers have found that  P.A. causes the body to develop a resistance to the lethal toxins produced  by anthrax.

One  criticism is that there is a wide variation from batch to batch in the  amount of P.A., and  that no standard exists for the amount of P.A. needed to produce immunity.

Researchers don't even know if the  current 18-month  series of six shots is necessary - it is based on a  single study  done in the  1950s.

Chuck Dacey, a spokesman for  the Army  Research and  Material  Command at Fort Detrick in Maryland, said there is an ongoing clinical trial to determine whether fewer doses can be used.

Pentagon officials have  repeatedly  expressed  full  confidence  in  the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. But for more than a decade, they also have been funding a series of attempts to  develop a better vaccine.

Last year, a highly purified vaccine was developed  at Fort Detrick  that shows promise but is  several  years  away  from  production.

"The next generation vaccine is still very much in research and development," Dacey said.

Originally published, May 25, 1998,  Belleville News-Democrat Belleville, Illinois
(c) 1998, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill.

Home    Rod's Blog

            GWI       Anthrax      Gen. Borisov    Other Military Stories

Mail Rod