Sunday, March 2, 2008

CDC to destroy oldest smallpox vaccine

The government announced Friday that it has said goodbye to one of the world's greatest lifesavers _ the oldest smallpox vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month made arrangements to dispose of the last of its 12 million doses of Dryvax, and notified other health departments and the military to do the same by Feb. 29.

Dryvax — produced by scraping virus off the skin of infected calves — is being replaced in federal vaccine stockpiles by a more modern product manufactured in laboratories.

Dryvax was unusually dangerous for a vaccine, blamed in recent years for triggering heart attacks and a painful heart inflammation in some patients.

Dryvax was created in the late 1800s, by the company that became Wyeth Laboratories. Wyeth was a primary U.S. manufacturer of smallpox vaccine by the mid-1940s, and was the only company left making it by the early 1960s, said Dr. D.A. Henderson, a University of Pittsburgh vaccine expert who played a key role in international smallpox eradication efforts.

-- Nidhi


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