One day after the British authorities announced a mass vaccination programme against smallpox, the USA, France and Canada has confirmed plans to carry out a large-scale inoculation project against the same disease.
Worried that their countries would not be prepared in the event of a bioterrorism attack, the governments of these countries have advanced contingency plans to carry out a vaccination programme. IN the UK, the British government is in negotiations with the pharmaceutical company Aventis, which will supply 10,000,000 doses of the vaccine. In France, the Health Ministry has confirmed that there are plans to inoculate the front-line health and emergency workers at short notice, while the whole population would be vaccinated within two weeks.
Meanwhile, in the USA, the Bush Administration plans to vaccinate a million front-line military personnel, in a first phase, while a further ten million workers (police, healthcare staff) would be inoculated in a second phase. In Canada there are also plans for a mass inoculation programme for front-line emergency workers.
The vaccine would later be available for people who wanted to be inoculated on a voluntary basis in the USA and the UK. The vaccination can cause serious side effects for those who already have weak immune systems and so it would not be advisable for the chronically ill. One to three people per million die from side effects of the vaccination.
However, the death rate from the disease, were a massive outbreak to occur, would be around 30% of those infected, while many others would suffer from lifelong complications such as blindness. The illness begins with fever, tiredness, and backache, symptoms not unlike those of influenza. A rash appears within 2 to 4 days and evolves from spots, firstly, to hard bumps, to blisters then to pustules and finally crusts, initially on the palms of hands and soles of feet, later spreading to the arms and legs and finally, all over the body.
It is not yet clear why the sudden rush has taken place in four separate countries, all of them pressing for vaccine for the same disease. Either an intelligence report has appeared confirming that something has gone missing from a laboratory or a warning has been made. To date, there is no official confirmation or denial of either option.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru