Buying samples of synthetic DNA is surprisingly easy. The trade is overseen by the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, an industry-led group that works with government agencies to screen orders and buyers. But such oversight can’t prevent someone from purchasing hazardous DNA samples on the black market.
The development and ultimate approval of tecovirimat for the antiviral treatment of smallpox, a disease that has been eradicated from the world for nearly 40 years, required a unique regulatory approach based on the US Food and Drug Administration's Animal Rule.
This review examines evidence from the history of variolation, data on mucosal infection collected in the last decades of smallpox transmission, aerosol measurements, animal models, reports of smallpox lung among healthcare workers, and the epidemiology of smallpox regarding the potential importance of fine particle aerosol mediated transmission.
A smallpox epidemic in the Pacific could spread globally and could be challenging to contain due to dispersed island geography, informal maritime travel and shortage of human resources. In this context, a smallpox simulation exercise was held in August 2018, with a focus on bringing together international stakeholders from a wide range of sectors including health, defence, law enforcement, emergency management and relevant non-government organizations.
To expand US health security and prepare for the potential use of smallpox virus in bioterrorism attacks against the United States, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will purchase additional doses of a smallpox antiviral medication called TPOXX for the Strategic National Stockpile and will work with Siga Technologies to develop an intravenous formulation of the drug.
According to workshop organizers, in the event of global smallpox spread, first responders would need to isolate 70 percent of smallpox patients and track and vaccinate at least 70 percent of their contacts.
The eradication of smallpox remains one of humanity’s most impressive achievements, but it has also left people unvaccinated and vulnerable.
Research found that the number of people living with weakened immune systems must be examined when planning for the risk of smallpox re-emerging.
The work generated criticism from global biosecurity experts who say that offering a manual for re-creating an orthopoxvirus is inherently dangerous.
The synthetic technology breakthrough points to safer vaccines.