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Drug Firm Offers to Donate Smallpox Vaccine

There is no treatment for smallpox, which kills about 30% of its victims and leaves others covered in sores. But giving a vaccine within days of exposure can protect against illness. A French drug company offered to donate up to 90 million doses of decades-old smallpox vaccine and the United States said it would accept the supplies if they are still effective against the deadly disease. //

The UnitedStates has been working to gather enough doses of smallpox vaccine to protect each person in the USA if needed. The highly contagious and often fatal illness was wiped from the planet more than 2 decades ago, but experts fear it could resurface in a biowarfare attack.

The U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson said that initial tests were promising of the vaccine held in storage by Drug firm, Aventis Pasteur since 1973, when the United States stopped its smallpox vaccination program. The Aventis supply will be added to more than 15 million doses the government already has. Officials announced that those doses can be diluted to 80 million if needed. The government also has ordered an additional 300 million shots from Acambis Plc and Baxter International Inc .

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