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Readers Respond

Smallpox vaccine poses no danger to the public [Letter]

Commentator D.A. Henderson's recent piece on smallpox contained an unbalanced and inaccurate description of a smallpox vaccine produced by my company, Bavarian Nordic ("Smallpox virus stocks are dangerous," Aug 6).

Contrary to his statements, our vaccine, Imvamune, is licensed in Canada and throughout the European Union. It is also held in the Strategic National Stockpile, a cache of medical products maintained by the U.S. government for use in emergencies.

In the event of an accidental or intentional release of smallpox, Imvamune could be made available to protect the millions of people at risk of serious side effects from traditional vaccines — those who suffer from eczema (a common skin disorder especially prevalent among children) or who have compromised immune systems such as HIV.

Imvamune is injected like other modern vaccines and therefore does not produce an open lesion, or "take," as do older smallpox vaccines.

The vaccine was developed through a successful decade-long partnership between Bavarian Nordic and the U.S. government. Through grants and contracts with the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Bavarian Nordic developed a product specifically designed to fulfill the government's requirements, thereby ensuring all Americans are equally protected.

I am proud of this strong collaboration and believe that partnerships like this are the best example of how the expertise of the biomedical industry can be utilized to meet the public health needs of governments.

Indeed, Bavarian Nordic is now using the platform technology we created to develop vaccines against other infectious diseases, such as Ebola, which is currently affecting nations and critical health care workers throughout Africa.

Paul Chaplin, Washington, D.C.

The writer is president & CEO of Bavarian Nordic A/S.

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