May 30, 2007

Well-connected drug company obtained anthrax vaccine contracts despite side effects

Moderator Note: Can anyone really state this is about "protection" anymore? The lines connecting the corruption simply cannot be drawn any more clearer.

Well-connected drug company obtained anthrax vaccine contracts despite side effects
Julie Weisberg

Two former high-ranking health officials with close ties to the Bush administration helped a Michigan-based pharmaceutical company secure sole-source, multi-million dollar federal contracts for the purchase of its controversial anthrax vaccine, a RAW STORY investigation has found.

Last month, Emergent BioSolutions announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intended to purchase more than 18 million doses of its Biothrax vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile. The strategic stockpile is set aside for civilian use during a large-scale emergency, such as a bioterrorism attack or natural disaster. Once finalized, the contract will be the largest of its kind for Emergent's anthrax vaccine.

BioThrax is the only FDA-licensed vaccine for anthrax in the United States. The Pentagon has used it for the military's mandatory anthrax vaccination program for the last ten years, though not without problems. Although the military continues to publicly claim the vaccine is "safe and effective", thousands of soldiers have suffered adverse reactions, ranging from mild to severe.

In March, RAW STORY revealed that Walter Reed is investigating links between the vaccine and life-threatening autoimmune diseases. Hundreds of U.S. service members have refused the shots, fearing the side-effects experienced by some 80 percent of the soldiers who receive them, according to a 2002 General Accountability Office report. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security granted BioThrax special protections under its Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technology Act, or SAFETY Act. It was the first vaccine to receive protection under the Act. According to an Emergent press release, the act certifies BioThrax is an "approved product for homeland security" and provides significant liability protection in the event the vaccine is administered to civilians in a terrorist attack.

After an initial contact with DHS spokesperson Christopher Kelly, Kelly did not respond to further RAW STORY requests for additional information on the department's decision to grant BioThrax SAFETY Act protections.

The corruption of revolving doors

According to company documents filed by Emergent BioSolutions with the Security and Exchange Commission, two former officials with the Department of Health and Human Services -- Jerome Hauer, who was Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public Health and Emergency Preparedness in 2002-03, and Dr. Louis Sullivan, who served as HHS Secretary under former President George H.W. Bush -- worked as paid lobbyists in an aggressive and well-connected lobbying effort to secure the Biothrax contracts.

In their administration posts, both Hauer and Sullivan had helped oversee the National Strategic Stockpile and aided in policy development and drug procurement related to countering bioterrorism. After working as lobbyists for Emergent, the two men were invited to sit on the company's board of directors.

"The pharmaceutical industry is a strong case in point of the corruption of revolving doors," says Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocate and government watchdog group.

Holman, who is also the co-author of "A Matter of Trust": How the Revolving Door Undermines Public Confidence in Government -- and What To Do About It," states that "winning" government contracts by establishing or exploiting close personal ties to an administration is part of the "on-going, widespread corruption that plagues the federal government."

"The very businesses subject to regulation have largely taken over the agencies that oversee them through critical governmental appointments, and befriended the same agencies by hiring former key public officials to sit on their boards and make phone calls to their colleagues still in the agencies," Holman said.

However, Marc Wolfson, an HHS spokesperson, says lobbying and connections have not been a factor in Emergent's recent success. "Having these people on the board has not been a factor at all," Wolfson said.

Emergent BioSolutions' vice president for corporate communications, Robert Burrows, agreed. "This company's success is not based in political know-how," Burrows wrote in an email. "The ability to move science from the laboratory bench to product development and through the world's toughest regulatory system -- the Food and Drug Administration review process -- is what matters most."

"Other companies are not competing with Emergent for government contracts for one reason only: they have not developed a product that meets the standards set by the FDA," he added.

Another former Bush administration official, former Federal Emergency Management Director Joe Allbaugh, joined Emergent's board in June 2006. Allbaugh had been George W. Bush's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and was national campaign manager for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. In 2003, Allbaugh formed his own consulting and lobbying group, Allbaugh Company, which boasts clients such as Kellogg Brown and Root, Northrup Grumman, and BP America.

"The revolving door has been richly rewarding for the pharmaceutical industry -- and those public officials who give the industry what it wants," Holman said. Hauer declined to be interviewed for this story, and both he and a spokeperson for Allbaugh said all press questions should be directed to Emergent's PR people. RAW STORY was unable to independently contact Sullivan.

Ramping up its lobbying effort

To help jump-start its lobbying effort, from September to November 2004 Emergent board member and former Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan provided "consulting services for a fixed fee of $25,000 per month," according to Emergent's proxy report for shareholders, filed last month. During that time, Sullivan set up at least one meeting with government scientists and Emergent officials. On November 4, 2004, HHS filed an intent to procure five million doses of BioThrax for the nation's strategic stockpile. It was Emergent's first large scale production contract with the department and was worth more than $122 million.

That same day, HHS announced it had awarded an $877.5 million sole-source contract to VaxGen Inc. -- a small pharmaceutical company in California with no marketable products, best known for its failed HIV vaccine -- for the creation and delivery of 75 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine, with 25 million doses due in 2006. Emergent BioSolutions had not entered a bid for the contract. However, over the next two years, Emergent would spend millions of dollars on a lobbying effort to discredit VaxGen and convince HHS that instead of focusing on a new vaccine, the department should purchase millions of doses of BioThrax for its civilian stockpile.

"They spread a lot of misinformation about us," Lance Ignon, a spokesman for VaxGen said, referring to lobbyists for Emergent.

Emergent's Burrows countered that "the proven safety and efficacy of BioThrax as a preventive therapy for front line troops, first-responders and the start of a general stockpile of care speaks for itself" in winning contracts.

The long and well-connected road

Perhaps the best-connected member of Emergent's board is Jerry Hauer. Hauer, who served as an adviser on national security to the National Institute of Health and helped lead the response to the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks, has had a lucrative association with Emergent over several years.

While head of HHS's bioterrorism program, Hauer had urged an increase in the stockpile's amount of anthrax vaccine to allow for the inoculation of thousands of first responders. He also urged mass smallpox vaccinations for health care workers.

Hauer left HHS in November 2003 and was working as a paid lobbyist and consultant for Emergent by December 2004. (Government ethics rules bar top federal officials from lobbying their former administrative agency for one year.)

In January 2005, Hauer joined the lobbying group Fleishman-Hillard as a senior vice president. The same month, Emergent entered into a contract with the firm, paying $20,000 a month for its services, according to the company's SEC filings. That fee was increased to $30,000 several weeks later. In June 2005, Hauer joined Emergent's board of directors, while still serving as one of the company's paid lobbyists. He continues to maintain both positions with the company. In March 2006, Hauer left Fleishman-Hillard to form his own consulting and lobbying firm, with himself and his wife as sole owners. That same month, Emergent terminated its lobbying contract with Fleishman-Hillard and entered into an agreement with Hauer's firm to provide "strategic consulting and domestic marketing advice."

Under the terms of the agreement, included in the SEC filing, Emergent BioSolutions pays the Hauer Group $15,000 a month for its services, which includes "relationship management with targeted media outlets and reporters," facilitating "introductions to relevant government officials," and "introductions to potential commercial partners."

Despite requesting RAW STORY's questions for this story, Burrows would not confirm the date when Hauer first began working for Emergent BioSolutions as a paid consultant or if Hauer's service as a board member and employment as a consultant for the company -- as well as other biopharmaceutical companies -- would violate Emergent's conflict of interest code.

VaxGen is squeezed out

Around the same time that Hauer joined Emergent's board of directors, in mid-2005, VaxGen was required to push back its production timeline after running into difficulties with its vaccine's development. "Drug development is unpredictable. .. you are going to run into twists and turns," Ignon said of the delay. In fact, a recent GAO report referred to the government's contract with VaxGen as "very aggressive" with "margin for error."

Up until VaxGen's 2005 stumble, Ignon said, the company had enjoyed a good working relationship with HHS. But then, over the next several months, things started to deteriorate, and "it just became more and more difficult to work with Health and Human Services."

On May 5, 2006, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness -- the position that Hauer held during President Bush's first term -- announced that his department would purchase $120 million in additional doses of Emergent's vaccine for the national stockpile.

A few days later, VaxGen announced that while HHS had granted an extension on the development and delivery of its vaccine, the department had "unilaterally" made significant changes to its contract, imposing new requirements on the California drug maker before the government would purchase and pay for a finished product.

Louis Sullivan joined Emergent BioSolution' s board of directors just a few weeks later, in June of 2006, followed by Joe Allbaugh in July. On November 15, 2006, Emergent BioSolutions -- previously a private company -- made an initial public offering.

In early November, the FDA ordered VaxGen to delay its trials, citing concerns over a possible decline in the vaccine's shelf life. In December, HHS cancelled the VaxGen contract, arguing that the company had failed to meet a required deadline to begin clinical trials. The two parties recently settled out of court, after VaxGen appealed the decision.

Although Ignon said he 'couldn't draw a direct line from Emergent's aggressive lobbying tactics and well-connected board of directors to VaxGen's cancelled contract, he did say that it certainly did not make the process go any smoother.' "There was a real face off between science and politics," Ignon said. "And I think that in the end, politics won."

Late last month, Emergent announced that Health and Human Services intended to purchase up to more than 18 million doses of BioThrax. The Pentagon also announced it would be purchasing at least four million doses of the vaccine, after resuming its mandatory anthrax vaccination program earlier this year.

HSS spokesman Marc Wolfson said that after canceling VaxGen's contract, HSS had turned to Emergent to help fill civilian stockpile shelves, because it was the only company that manufactured an FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine. He could not yet estimate what the contract would be worth to Emergent, because HHS and the company were still negotiating the details. "It's the sole source," he said. It's the only one out there."

Additional research for this story was furnished by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane.

May 28, 2007

Israeli anthrax vaccine victims call on army to take responsibility

Tel Aviv, 27 May - The Israeli armed forces finally decided to disclose to the Israeli Medical Association details about a secret experiment conducted on 800 soldiers with an anthrax vaccine since 1999. The decision to reveal facts and circumstances of the experimental vaccine had become inevitable after an Israeli TV channel aired the stories of several dozens of Israeli veterans suffering from medium to serious impairments of their health condition after they had been exposed to an anthrax vaccine which the Israeli armed forces wanted to develop in competition with already existing US vaccines.

Since the Israeli army later declined any responsibility for treatment of symptoms the former soldiers attributed to their particpation in the anthrax vaccine experiment, the patients decided to turn to the press as their last resort to force the army to take responsibility for their medical treatment.

May 19, 2007

Illegal Immigrants Weak Link in Bioterror
Illegal immigrants weak link in bioterror

PHOENIX, May 19 (UPI) -- Arizona officials are wrestling with the possibility that illegal immigrants could become a weak link in efforts to control a bioterrorism attack.

The Arizona Republic said Saturday that Maricopa County officials are concerned that increased enforcement of immigration laws will make illegals in the Phoenix area reluctant to come forward in the event a mass inoculation is required.

"They are going to rank as among the hardest-to-reach populations," said health department official Mark Hart. "It is a twofold challenge: finding and informing them, and then getting them to come."

Hart said the county hoped to enlist clergy and community leaders to convince immigrants to get treatment when necessary. However, county law-enforcement officials have been cracking down on immigration violations recently.

Soldier's from every other Country that Used Anthrax Vaccine have had Medical Problems

Soldiers from every other country that used anthrax vaccine have had medical problems, even though only limited information is available
Meryl Nass, MD
May 19, 2007


Dozens of Israeli soldiers who volunteered to take part in classified anthrax vaccine experiments years ago are reportedly still ill as a result, according to Israeli media. They were reported to have been prohibited from disclosing information about the experiment, even to their families, even after they developed incurable illnesses.[1]

United Kingdom

British authorities have claimed that 50% of troops accepted the vaccine voluntarily. [2] But in one study of voluntary vaccinations, only 21% of the soldiers offered vaccinations completed the four dose series.[3] The authors concluded, “Although the old vaccine is considered safe, the number of adverse reactions and incapacity reported by a military medical unit was unexpected.” Another study at five Royal Air Force bases found that only 4 to 22 per cent of those volunteering for anthrax vaccinations chose to complete all four doses.[4]

A study of veterans and Gulf War illness symptoms found that soldiers who received anthrax vaccine for the Gulf War were 1.5 times as likely to report chronic Gulf War illness as those who did not, and that those who received anthrax vaccine for the Bosnia deployment were over 3 times as likely to report a similar chronic illness.[5]


Canada’s Department of National Defense hired contractor Goss-Gilroy Inc. to study risk factors and Gulf War Illnesses.[6] The 1998 study found that soldiers who had received anthrax and/or plague vaccinations during the first Gulf War deployment were 1.92 times as likely to suffer from chronic fatigue as those who did not receive these biological warfare vaccines.

In 2000, a decision by military judge Guy Brais ended Canada’s mandatory anthrax vaccination program. His ruling stated,“It was sufficient and the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defense has successfully demonstrated that the anthrax vaccine contained in lot 020 was unsafe and hazardous and could be responsible for the important symptoms reported by so many persons who received that vaccine…In those circumstances, the court concludes that the accused's right to life, liberty and security of the person in section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were infringed. And as the court stated earlier, the government, through its Department of National Defense and the Canadian Forces, could never be justified to impose inoculation of soldiers with an unsafe and dangerous vaccine as a limit of their rights under section 7.” [7]

Since the Afghanistan war began in 2002, Canadian troops have not even been offered voluntary anthrax vaccinations. [8]


Nearly three quarters of soldiers vaccinated prior to deployment to Afghanistan suffered severe acute reactions, according to Australian defense documents released in early 2004.[9] Yet, asked on TV about the safety of the anthrax vaccine, Australian Minister of Defense Robert Hill had claimed two months earlier that, “there hasn't been any adverse reactions, let alone extreme reactions.” [10]

No reports of the vaccinated soldiers’ later health status have been provided to the public.

“The Australian Medical Association has called upon the military to prove the vaccination is safe. ‘If they have that data, the medical profession in Australia would very much like to see it,’ the Association' s president Kerryn Phelps told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.” [11]

[1] Ha’aretz staff. Haaretz newspaper, Israel. May 15, 2007.
[3] Hayes SC and World MJ. Adverse reactions to anthrax immunisation in a military field hospital. J Royal Army Med Corps. 2000 Oct;146(3): 191-5.
[4] Enstone JE, Wale MCJ, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS et al. Adverse medical events in British service personnel following anthrax vaccination. Vaccine 2003; 21:1348-54.
[5] Unwin C, Blatchley N, Coker W et al. Health of UK servicemen who served in Persian Gulf War. Lancet 1999: 353: 169.
[6] This study was posted on the Canadian Department of National Defense website from 1998 for several years but is no longer online. The study has not been published. This author has a copy, obtained via download.

Meryl Nass, MD
Mount Desert Island Hospital
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
207-288-5081 ext. 220

May 18, 2007

Soldier’s Smallpox Inoculation Sickens Son

Note: the smallpox vaccine that was unanimously approved by an FDA advisory committee this week (ACAM2000) was developed from the vaccine this child received and is expected to have a very similar side effect profile. This means that subclinical myocarditis may be seen as frequently as one in 30 (according to a 1970s Scandinavian trial) to one in 145 persons (according to Acambis' own recent clinical trial) vaccinated. Bad as the following story is, many more lives are likely to be lost from cardiac complications of the smallpox vaccine than from eczema vaccinatum and other skin-related complications.--Nass, MD

The New York Times
May 18, 2007
Soldier’s Smallpox Inoculation Sickens Son

A 2-year-old boy spent seven weeks in the hospital and nearly died from a viral infection he got from the smallpox vaccination his father received before shipping out to Iraq, according to a government report and the doctors who treated him.

The boy, who lives in Indiana and has recovered, became ill in early March, two weeks after his father’s deployment was delayed and he was allowed to make a trip home. Over the next few weeks, the boy suffered kidney failure and lost most of his skin to the disease, eczema vaccinatum.

Experts said the father, who had eczema in childhood, should never have been given the vaccine because that fact made him more susceptible to side effects like vaccinia infection. And they said military doctors should have been doubly cautious because the son, too, suffered from eczema and would have been highly susceptible to infection. Military procedures call for asking about such conditions in soldiers and their families.

Vaccinia is the live virus used in smallpox vaccine. After vaccination, the body develops a resistance to vaccinia, a disease that is generally milder than smallpox, and the resistance also works against smallpox. The injection site can spread the vaccinia virus, however, and people without strong immune systems are particularly susceptible.

Smallpox was officially declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1979, and inoculation of military personnel was suspended in 1990. But after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent cases of anthrax sent through the mail, the government began vaccinating military personnel and many health care workers, with 1.2 million vaccinated as of March of this year.

Since then, a handful of vaccinia cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including one, described in the May 4 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, of vulvar infection in an Alaskan woman whose sex partner was a serviceman.

Dr. Inger Damon, the acting head of the disease center branch concerned with pox viruses, said, “I think this number of cases certainly raised our awareness and led to discussions between ourselves and the D.O.D.”

An account of the case was published this week in the morbidity report. According to the report, which did not give the family’s name, the boy was taken to the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital on March 3.

Dr. Madelyn Kahana, the chief of pediatric intensive care medicine at the hospital, said in an interview that the child had been covered with “mounds of pox” that reminded her of photos of bees swarming over beekeepers. “I’m a veteran of 25 years of practice in the I.C.U.’s, and I thought I’d seen it all,” Dr. Kahana said. “But this was stunning to the eye.”

Dr. John F. Marcinak, an associate professor of pediatrics who worked 16 hours a day with the boy, said that in the first weeks of the case, “it was really touch and go.”

The doctors gave the boy narcotics to render him unconscious and free of pain. They also inserted a breathing tube and put him on mechanical ventilation to counter the breathing problems that can come with heavy doses of narcotics.

Doctors worked with the disease control centers to get shipments of Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous. They also used an antiviral drug, Cidofovir. That drug, which has been associated with kidney problems in some cases, may have caused another crisis in which the boy’s kidneys began failing and his abdomen filled with fluid.

“He looked like he was going to die,” Dr. Kahana recalled.

The doctors worked with the Food and Drug Administration to allow the use of an experimental drug for smallpox, ST-246, from Siga Technologies, which appeared to begin turning the case around.

Meanwhile, doctors drained the boy’s distended abdomen and cut away the dead skin, a process called debridement that is commonly used in burn victims. They put skin from cadavers over his exposed flesh to promote healing underneath and dressed the wounds.

The child’s mother also developed lesions on her face and index finger. She has recovered, but because of her infection, she had to be confined to his room and witnessed every procedure performed on her child. The military brought the father back from Iraq after the boy became ill.

The procedures for smallpox vaccination were hammered out through long discussion to prevent those who were particularly susceptible to the side effects from receiving it, said Dr. William Schaffner, who served on the C.D.C. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The case, Dr. Schaffner said, raises the question of “whether the stringent procedures that were initially put in place have eroded somewhat.”

In an editorial accompanying the report, the authors said that the military was studying the incident, “which will determine whether screening and education practices need to be modified.”

The boy’s skin grew back at a phenomenal rate and shows remarkably few signs of the ravages of the disease, Dr. Kahana said. She attributed the recovery to “a lot of good, diligent care and a lot of luck — and maybe divine intervention.”

As for his emotional recovery from the ordeal, she said, “He doesn’t remember a thing.” She added, however, “His mom remembers all of it.”

IDF secretly uses soldiers as anthrax vaccine guinea pigs,2506,L-3401245,00.html

IDF secretly uses soldiers as anthrax vaccine guinea pigs

TV documentary reveals army tested experimental anthrax vaccines on elite combat soldiers, but refused to treat them after adverse symptoms appeared
Ines Ehrlich
Israel News

The IDF secretly used elite combat soldiers as "guinea pigs" for experimental anthrax vaccines, according to an expose broadcast Wednesday night by the "Uvda" (Fact) documentary program.

Presenter Ilana Dayan revealed how in 2000, the army decided to carry out anthrax antibody experiments ahead of independent manufacture in Israel.

According to the report, hundreds of young recruits into Israel's elite combat units were offered the opportunity to partake in a top secret experiment codenamed "Omer 2". They were led to believe they were performing a national service of the utmost importance to the state.

The soldiers were told that the antibody had been approved by the American FDA as far back as 1970 and was used on thousands of American military personnel. It was explained that the experiment they would undergo constituted the final phase prior to anthrax vaccine production in Israel, which would cater to a possible eventuality of a biological attack on military or civilian populations.

In 2004, a US district judge ruled that the program of anthrax vaccine for use on American military personnel be stopped due to a series of side effects experienced by US troops.

Classified information

Since 2000, the soldiers selected for the experiment underwent a series of seven inoculations, all carried out in top secret, without even the knowledge of their commanding officers. When various symptoms such as serious skin lesions and pneumonia began to appear, the soldiers did not relate them to the experiment and sought standard medical treatment provided by the military.

Once soldiers began to suspect that there may be a connection between the vaccines and their symptoms, they contacted the secret unit in charge of the program and presented their case.

The symptoms, it was explained to them, had absolutely nothing to do with the inoculations.

Regular army doctors were unable to diagnose the mystery ailments without knowing what drugs had been administered in the shots.

Nir, a fictitious name, who was interviewed throughout the program, was the only soldier to receive the full series of seven shots. When forced to involve his parents after being hospitalized, he tried to find out what the vaccine contained so that he could receive adequate treatment. He called the unit begging to be told what he had been given – his request was refused outright as it was "classified information".

'Citizens can sleep peacefully'

Professor Tzvi Bentowitz, head of the research institute researching infectious diseases at Ben Gurion University, said, "The fact that this matter was shrouded in secrecy here while it created such an outcry in the US is astonishing, to say the least."

The secret medical unit had also contacted the air force in an attempt to recruit pilots for the experiment, but air force officials refused, saying that possible side effects could interfere with pilots' performance.

In response, the IDF's chief doctor, Brigadier-General Hezi Levy, told the program that the citizens of the State of Israel will be happy to know that Israel has developed its own anthrax vaccine and can now "sleep peacefully".

He added that from now on the army would take full responsibility for any adverse symptoms experienced by the group of soldiers, and that it would coordinate treatments with the relevant medical institutions.

Speaker Cummings praises Allen amendment to review vaccination policy for military personnel

Speaker’s Office
2 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Tim Feeley, 749-7578, Kaylene Waindle, 615-4187

Speaker Cummings praises Allen amendment to review vaccination policy for military personnel

Congressman Tom Allen attaches amendment to defense authorization bill in response to unexplained death of a Maine Guardsman

AUGUSTA– Speaker Cummings is praising an effort led by Congressman Tom Allen to direct the Department of Defense to review vaccination protocols for active duty military personnel.

The amendment presented by Congressman Allen and attached to the defense authorization bill reflects concerns that have been voiced in the aftermath of the death of one National Guard member from Maine, Captain Patrick Damon, and mirrors legislation that has been introduced in the Maine Legislature.

“Congressman Allen is standing up to protect the health and safety of Maine’s military personnel,” said Speaker Cummings. “The death of Captain Damon has forced us in Maine to review our standards because our soldiers require a high level of certainty that the healthcare and medications they receive will not put them in jeopardy. Their jobs are dangerous enough without being subjected to further peril by the very medications meant to protect them.

I applaud Congressman Allen for his initiative to protect the well being of our troops.”

Legislation similar to the amendment attached by Congressman Allen is under consideration in the Maine Legislature. The Maine legislation was brought forward by Barbara Damon-Day, the mother of Captain Damon, after an autopsy cast into doubt the cause of his sudden death.

Captain Damon died suddenly while he was deployed in Afghanistan with the Maine National Guard’s 240th Engineering Group. Captain Damon’s family is questioning whether he had a prolonged negative reaction to the many vaccinations and medications he received before being sent to Afghanistan.

The death of Captain Damon is currently being reviewed by the Vaccine Healthcare Center at Walter Reed Medical Center.

“This issue would not have been raised to this level with out the courage and the determination of Barbara Damon-Day,” said Speaker Cummings. “Barbara’s work to turn her family’s tragedy into something positive for other Maine families, Maine’s service men and women and the members of the Maine National Guard is truly remarkable.”

On Friday, May 11 the Maine Legislature’s Legal and Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed the measure brought forward by Damon-Day that is limited to personnel under the authority of the Maine National Guard. The proposal, LD 1889, is sponsored by Speaker of the House Glenn Cummings, and directs the Maine National Guard and the Maine Center for Disease Control to collaborate in reviewing the efficacy and safety of preventive health care and vaccination protocols for members of the Maine National Guard. The bill would also create a commission to review healthcare and other matters for Maine’s service members and veterans.

May 16, 2007

Israel Develops its own Anthrax Vaccine,23599,21740360-1702,00.html

From correspondents in Jerusalem

ISRAEL developed its own anthrax vaccine after conducting secret experiments on hundreds of soldier volunteers.

Giora Martinovich, a former chief medical officer in the military, said that the experiments were carried out in the late 1990s in the face of fears of a possible anthrax attack by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Experiments were carried out on 700 soldiers on a strict volunteer basis and minor side-effects were recorded on four of the human guinea pigs.

As a result, Israel, today has an excellent ability to protect its citizens in the event of an anthrax attack, Mr Martinovich said.

Security sources confirmed research was conducted to improve protection for the Israeli population from strategic threats in which medical research involving human subjects was authorised.

“The soldiers' participation in the research was completely voluntary and was conducted under very thorough medical, ethical and safety supervision,” one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

“Soldiers who volunteered to participate were provided with a detailed explanation of the research and had the option to withdraw at any time.”

During the 1991 Gulf war, Israel equipped its population with gas masks out of fear that Saddam's regime might attack with missiles loaded with non-conventional warheads.

May 15, 2007

Secret IDF anthrax experiment participants develop illnesses
By Haaretz Staff

Israeli investigative program "Uvda" (fact) reported Tuesday that dozens of soldiers belonging to elite Israel Defense Forces units have been suffering from various illnesses over the last few years after participating in a secret IDF experiment meant to aid in the development of an anthrax vaccine.

The experiment was sponsored by the Defense Ministry, and included 800 test subjects since 1999, the report said.

Channel 2's Uvda maintains that the soldiers participating in the experiment were prohibited from disclosing information regarding the experiment, event to their families. They were not allowed to talk about the experiment even after they began developing illnesses, some of them incurable.

The report reveals that some of the soldiers developed unexplained skin tumors, severe lung infections, serious migraine headaches, bronchitis and even epilepsy symptoms.

Despite the likely connection between the symptoms and the secret experiment, Channel 2 reports, the Defense Ministry and the IDF have not taken responsibility over the medical care of those soldiers undergoing treatment in civilian medical facilities.

One of the soldiers who took part in the experiment told channel 2 "They said that one group would receive the American vaccine, and the other group would receive the experimental Israel vaccine. The specifically explained to us that the vaccine is not dangerous and that we were not being injected with the actual virus, not even the dead virus. Instead, they said they would inject us with the altered DNA of the virus. They said it was very advanced."

The Defense Ministry issued a response to the claims saying "the research was conducted in preparation for the protection of the population of Israel from a strategic threat. It was conducted under the approval of the Helsinki committee [for human experimentation] and was carried out with the help of soldiers who volunteered, who were kept under very strict medical observation. They were told in detail about the research and given the option to quit at any time."

Israel Held Anthrax Tests (Vaccine)

Israel said it subjected soldiers to a secret, large-scale anthrax vaccine experiment.

The Defense Ministry made the announcement Monday following a television expose alleging that some of around 800 soldiers who took part in government anthrax-related tests since 1999 have developed diseases, and often been neglected by the state.

"The experiment was carried out in the context of preparing to protect the State of Israel's populace from a strategic threat," read a Defense Ministry statement, adding that the procedure had been approved by medical experts and that all participants were fully informed volunteers.

May 14, 2007

"Secret Shot" - Video Clip

Must see video clip. There is about a 15 second advertisement before the segment.

Anthrax Vaccine To Be Mandatory for CENTCOM

Policy applies to servicemembers, others in Central Command ops areas 15 or more days.

By Army Sgt. Timothy DinneenRegional Command-East Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, May 14, 2007 — “Imagine a very slowly descending escalator that you’re climbing,” said Army Capt. Remington Nevin, preventive medicine physician, Combined Joint Task Force-82. “Once you’ve completed your six dosage series you are as protected as you can be at the top of the escalator.”

Nevin’s analogy describes the recent CENTCOM policy mandating all servicemembers working in the CENTCOM area of operations for 15 or more consecutive days receive an anthrax vaccination. This mandatory vaccination extends to key Department of Defense contractors and certain civilian employees.

“We administer this because anthrax has been, and still constitutes, a real threat to forces,” Nevin said.

Anthrax is caused by bacteria and brings about three types of diseases: skin, gastrointestinal and inhalation. Inhaled anthrax is the most deadly form with a 99 percent mortality rate, according to

“We administer anthrax vaccines to our personnel to protect them from the threat of inhalation,” Nevin explained. “A threat we know has existed certainly since October 2001.”
The Food and Drug Administration schedule for the anthrax vaccine is six doses given during 18 months plus one dose annually as a booster. Each dose builds on the immune response from earlier doses. Without vaccination, troops would be more vulnerable to anthrax infection.

“Most soldiers here at Bagram will require two to three anthrax vaccinations in the first month of the program we start,” Nevin said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, servicemembers will not have to restart their series of dosages if they miss subsequent vaccination appointments; they will simply pick up where they left off. This includes troops who started the anthrax series voluntarily years ago and stopped.

“The dose can be delayed however long it takes until the soldier gets back to the clinic,” Nevin said. “You don’t want to space the dosages closer together than schedule permits but you can space them out.”

Nevin said this is a bio-weapon vaccine, designed to protect servicemembers from the threat of a biological agent that has been intentionally weaponized.

“We believe this vaccine will protect against the strains of anthrax most likely used against us,” Nevin proclaimed. “This vaccine was used effectively against the October 2001 anthrax attack in the U.S.”

Nevin said the anthrax vaccine is completely safe and effective.

“To my knowledge there have been no deaths linked to the receipt of the anthrax vaccine,” Nevin said.

The most common reactions are local side effects such as fever, general body aches and soreness around the shot area and resolve themselves in a few days, according to Nevin. He said they are easily managed with over-the-counter pain killers and rest.

“We anticipate soldiers will receive the vaccine through the medical facilities organic to their own task forces,” Nevin said. “The threat of anthrax is real and the health and safety of personnel is the primary concern of the program.”

Once soldiers reach the top of the “escalator” and are fully protected, they can make their descent back down mirroring their level of protection when leaving the CENTCOM area of operations. All they’ll need is a booster shot to climb back up again.

May 13, 2007

Restructuring costs push Acambis into loss in 1Q; foundations laid for a new strategy

However, the Acam2000 smallpox vaccine caused myocarditis in one of every 145 recipients in the clinical trial. Hopefully FDA will not give this vaccine a license.--M. Nass

Restructuring costs push Acambis into loss in 1Q; foundations laid for new strategy
From the News Desk

Cambridge-based biotech Acambis plc (ACM.L) said that costs associated with its restructring had pushed it into the red in the first quarter of the year.

However during this period, Chairman Peter Fellner (pictured) said: “we have laid the foundations for Acambis' transition into a high- value biotechnology company that is supported by, rather than reliant on, its biodefence revenues.”

Q1 revenue was £2.6m, compared with £6.0m in Q12006 primarily from its ChimeriVax-JE partnership with sanofi pasteur, the company said.

During Q1, the company continued to record revenue from its contracts with the US government’s NIAID for smallpox vaccine MVA3000. In 2006, the main sources of revenue were from its fixed-price 155 million- dose smallpox contract with the CDC, our MVA3000 contracts and product sales of Vivotif.

The total Q1 cost of restructuring was £4m, in line with guidance provided in March.

Mr Fellner said: “We have established a new executive management team with the appointment of Ian Garland as CEO on 8 May, Dr Michael Watson, as Executive Vice President, R&D, and Elizabeth Brown as Acting Chief Financial Officer. During the quarter, we also initiated a restructuring programme to refocus our resources upon key programmes and core operational capabilities, and significantly lower our cost base.

“At the same time, we have continued to move forward our R&D pipeline. We achieved notable progress on our Japanese encephalitis vaccine project, establishing an important commercialisation partnership with sanofi pasteur and announcing positive data from a pivotal Phase 3 trial.

“Since then, we have achieved two milestones that triggered payments from sanofi pasteur. In addition, we have initiated the second part of a Phase 2 trial of our ChimeriVax-West Nile vaccine candidate and recently submitted an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate clinical testing of our ACAM-FLU-A influenza vaccine candidate.

“On 17 May the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will review our ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine. We look forward to the outcome of that meeting, given that a licence is a necessary prerequisite for the long-term warm-base manufacturing contract that we are negotiating with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Its share price slid a marginal 0.76% on the news to close at 130p. The Group is avlued at around £140m.

May 10, 2007

US military begins planning for avian flu pandemic

US military begins planning for avian flu pandemic
by Jim Mannion Thu May 10, 2:27 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military has begun to plan for a possible avian flu pandemic that could kill as many as three million people in the United States in as little as six weeks, a Pentagon planning document said.

The Defense Department's "Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza," which was posted Wednesday on a Pentagon website, lays out guidelines and planning assumptions for US military services and combatant commands.

Possible scenarios include US troops being called in to put down riots, guard pharmaceutical plants and shipments, and help restrict the movement of people inside the country and across its borders.

The plan envisions fast moving, catastrophic waves of disease that would overwhelm health facilities and cripple the ability of state and local authorities to provide even basic commodities or services.

"A pandemic in the United States could result in 20-35 percent of the population becoming ill, three percent being hospitalized, and a fatality rate of one percent," the document said in a section on "planning assumptions."

A human-to-human outbreak of avian flu was most likely to occur outside the United States and may not be contained effectively, it said.

"A pandemic outbreak will last between 6-12 weeks and multiple pandemic waves will follow," it said.

If a pandemic influenza starts outside the United States, it will enter the US at multiple locations and spread quickly to other parts of the country, according to the report.

A vaccine for the specific strain of flu would not be available for distribution for a minimum of six to nine months after a human-to-human outbreak had been clinically confirmed, it said.

Transportation within states or internationally will be restricted to contain the spread of the virus, and communities may voluntarily close schools and limit public gatherings.

"Quarantine and other movement restrictions, especially if the restrictions are involuntary, will have minimal effect on the spread of the disease due to a very short incubation period and the ability of asymptomatic individuals to shed the virus," the document said.

"Military and civilian medical treatment facilities will be overwhelmed," it said.

It said the military will be called on to evacuate non-infected people from areas abroad that are having problems, and to help allies.

But the guidance said the US military's top priority would be to preserve the operational effectiveness of the Defense Department and its forces around the world.

Additionally, the Defense Department will develop a plan to ensure the continuity of operations of the US government and be prepared to support civilian authorities with medical supplies, airlift and security forces.

A key military role will be to distribute medical supplies and medications and provide security for the production and shipment of vaccines on orders of the president.

"When directed by the president, DoD will provide support to civil authorities in the event of a civil disturbance," the document said. "DoD will augment civilian law enforcement efforts to restore and maintain order in accordance with existing statutes."

The military also may assist civil authorities in "isolating and/or quarantining groups of people in order to minimize the spread of disease during an influenza pandemic," it said.

May 9, 2007

Day Honored for Commitment to Reduce Non-Combat Deaths
By Judi Finn

Eleven months after her son Capt. Patrick Damon, 41, died in Afghanistan where he served in the Maine National Guard, Barbara Damon Day of Newcastle had a proud and bittersweet moment of triumph on Friday, when she stood side by side with the Governor to announce groundbreaking legislation meant to protect those who serve their country in the military.

At a press conference with veterans and state officials, LD1889, “An Act to Protect the Lives and Health of Members of the Maine National Guard”, was formally introduced as an emergency bill by Gov. John Baldacci at the State House in the Hall of Flags. Supporting LD1899 are 155 legislative sponsors, rarely seen on any bill.

Gov. Baldacci said, “I’m proud to be standing here with Barbara,” and that the new law came about through her commitment “to protect the health of people who protect us.” He said, “From here on in Maine, we will take care of our own.”

Supported along the way by Damon’s State House colleagues, Day worked for months to get to this point, in hopes of preventing another family from going through similar heartache.

Day said that the State House was her son’s passion and joy. He was chief of staff for Speaker of the House Pat Colwell in 2002-2004 and served on other speakers’ staff. He was known by many at the ceremony and remembered fondly and respected for his dedication to public service as well as for his Maine National Guard duty.

Speaker of the House Glenn Cummings said, “As Speaker of the House today, I see the legacy that Pat Damon left and I know that we lost a person of great value. We can’t bring Pat back, but we can make a difference by passing this legislation to protect the health and lives of Maine’s citizen soldiers.”

“When he died in Afghanistan last June 15th, it was reported that ‘he died of a heart attack’,” Day said. Addressing the media she said, “I implore you to correct the record once and for all. One thing the autopsy did show is that Capt. Pat Damon did not die of a heart attack.”

Wearing her son’s dog tags and only losing her composure once, Day said the Vaccine Healthcare Center at Walter Reed is still looking at Damon’s death as possibly vaccine related. She said, “While the military lists Pat’s death as ‘sudden unexpected’ I call it ‘prolonged and preventable’ and have photos to back it up.”

On the day he was deployed to Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2006, Damon said goodbye to his wife and two children with a swollen face. In a photo taken July 12, 1999, after receiving eight vaccinations against eight diseases and a TB test, his face also shows swelling. A photo of him with Colwell in 2003 as a healthy man is a remarkable contrast. Day believes her son died as a result of reactions to vaccines and medications.

The new law forms a partnership between the Maine National Guard and the Maine Center for Disease Control to protect the health of guardsmen by setting higher standards for preventative medical practices and health screenings than currently exist.

A commission will be set up to track healthcare treatment of guard members and to make recommendations for improvements. It will review all health care treatment practices and protocols and the vaccinations and medications administered to guard members.

Day said, “This will also provide an access point for family members and the men and women who are members of the Maine National Guard, who may be victims of non-combat death or disability – a place for them to be heard, get support and some answers, and to know that the crack that their loved one fell through will be closed.”

The commission will meet four times a year and be comprised of Maine’s Adjutant General of the National Guard, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, Director of the Bureau of Maine Veterans’ Services, a doctor, a pharmacist, a psychologist, a family member of a deceased military person, a retired Maine veteran and a disabled Maine veteran.

The first report from the commission is due Dec. 15, 2008.

May 8, 2007

U.S. Firm to Prepare Biodefense Drugs

U.S. Firm to Prepare Biodefense Drugs

The U.S. Defense Department has issued three contracts to an Oregon biopharmaceutical firm for production of drugs that could provide protection for victims of bioterrorism, the company announced yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 18, 2005).

AVI BioPharma is set to receive a total of $7.1 million under the Pentagon contracts, which were funded through a 2006 budget allocation. The contracts provide $2.66 million for development of treatments for Ebola virus infection, another $2.66 million for Marburg virus drugs, and $1.78 million for treatments to counter anthrax and ricin infection.

The drugs would involve “antisense compounds,” which the company describes as “synthetic polymers that mirror a critical portion of a disease-causing organism’s genetic code, which bind to specific portions of the target genetic sequence.

“Like a key in a lock, NeuGene compounds are designed to match up perfectly with a specific gene or pathogen sequence, blocking the function of the target gene or pathogen,” the company said (AVI BioPharma, May 7).

Former Marine Claims Illness From Mystery Vaccine
Military Source Believes Experimental Shots May Have Been Given

BLANCHESTER, Ohio -- Target 5 has discovered that an alarming number of U.S. troops are having severe reactions to some of the vaccines they receive in preparation for going overseas.

"This is the worst cover-up in the history of the military," said an unidentified military health officer who fears for his job.

A shot from a syringe is leaving some U.S. servicemen and women on the brink of death.

"When the issue, I believe, of the use of the vaccine comes out, I believe it will make the Walter Reed scandal pale in comparison," said the health officer.

Lance Corporal David Fey, 20, has dialysis three days a week. His kidneys are failing, his military career is over, and he feels like his country abandoned him.

"I can't look at my old pictures. I really can't," said Fey. "I start looking at my old pictures, and I start crying."

Fey grew up amid the farm fields of Clermont County.

"I never missed a day at school," he said. "I was never sick. I was never sick."

A passion for sports and a sense of patriotism prompted the Blanchester High School athlete to join the Marines the day he turned 18.

"I looked at every branch, but I wanted the Marine Corps, because the Marine Corps was the few and the proud," said Fey.

Fey said he loved every minute of boot camp and combat training at 29 Palms in California. But on Nov. 28, 2005, his life would change forever. Fey was one of a group of Marines who lined up for an undisclosed shot.

"They asked us our name. We stood on these yellow footprints, and they gave us this shot, and we got the rest of the day off," he recalled. "After that shot, I started swelling up. I gained 30 pounds of water. My eyes swelled up where I couldn't see. I started snoring. I developed a rash on my hand."

Three weeks later, Fey was back in Clermont County on his death bed at Clinton Memorial Hospital. His kidneys were failing, and his body was so swollen that it left stretch marks.

"I would pray a lot," said Fey's mother, Cindy. "I would pray a lot, 'God take him.' When I couldn't hug my son because he would scream in pain or yell at me for touching him and stuff, I used to pray to God, 'just take him tonight.'"

Cindy Fey began pouring over medical records in search of answers. She said the shot was never listed in he son's medical records. The military claimed he never received a shot.

But as Target 5 discovered, the military's story would change.

The Department of Defense stated that "all service members' vaccinations are documented in the individual's permanent medical record." But Fey's military medical records revealed no shot on that day. Another Marine in Fey's unit told Target 5 that there is no shot listed in his medical records either and also said that the people who administered the shot never told his unit what it was.

When Cindy Fey called the U.S. Marine Hospital in 29 Palms to find out what kind of vaccine her son was given, she was told that the information was confidential.

Eleven months later, her son's medical records were mysteriously changed with a handwritten notation indicating that the mystery shot was a flu vaccine.

The military official who spoke to Target 5 on the condition of anonymity said that it was not surprising that nothing appeared originally in Fey's records.

"We have a lovely term for that," he said. "We call it C.Y.A. That's unfortunately an S.O.P. in the military."

Fey is one of a growing number of U.S. servicemen and women who are getting sick after receiving vaccines. And the highly praised Department of Defense medical officer who spoke with Target 5 said that the number is up in the thousands. The symptoms range from joint aches and pains and arthritic symptoms to death.

The Department of Defense said that it encourages "healthcare workers and vaccine recipients to report adverse (reactions) events." But the military never reported Fey's reaction to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FDA.

"I see the way the propaganda and information war is waged against America's sons and daughters and how patients are treated who claim to be injured from a vaccine," said the unidentified health officer. "That's troubling. That should trouble America." The officer said those who have claimed to have had adverse reactions to shots are treated like it is all in their heads.

Asked whether servicemen and women are receiving experimental vaccines, the officer said, "I would hope to God not. But from what I've seen, I would have to say yes."

The Department of Defense maintains that the vaccines given to U.S. troops are safe.

Meanwhile, Fey is still waiting for a kidney transplant.

"My biggest wish -- just to get up and be without pain," he said. "To get up and just be happy again."

Fey's mother has been in contact with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in an effort to receive some answers. Target 5 contacted Brown's office and received the following statement:

“My office is in frequent communication with the Marine Corps and the family, and we’ve requested answers to the family’s specific questions. I have also assisted Mr. Fey in receiving his VA benefits for health care, service-connected disability, and education assistance. His mother has been a strong advocate on his behalf, and I look forward to continuing working with her to resolve outstanding issues. It is imperative that everything possible is done to keep the brave men and women serving in our military safe.”

May 7, 2007

PACAF Emphasizes Anthrax Vaccination Before Deployments

PACAF Emphasizes Anthrax Vaccination Before Deployments

Headquarters Air Force officials recently sent additional implementation guidance to major commands that emphasizes pre-deployment notification.

The Air Force guidance states that all categories of personnel on orders may begin immunizations up to 60 days before deployment or arrival at the deployment location. High threat areas are primarily the Central Command area of responsibility or the Korean peninsula.

"Every effort should be made to provide at least three doses prior to deployment or permanent changes of station," said Lt. Col. Jeff White, assistant chief, readiness and operational requirements division at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces.

"Since Airmen often receive their written orders late in the pre-deployment process, the words 'on orders' is not meant to imply that members must have orders in hand to begin or resume vaccination. Personnel must only have received pre-deployment notification and have begun out-processing procedures," he said.

It is also not sufficient to simply be assigned to an AEF 'pair.'

"Unit leadership must actually notify an individual that he or she has been identified for deployment for 15 or more consecutive days, and directed to begin the necessary pre-deployment actions," Colonel White said.

"The spirit and intent of the guidance is to provide enough lead time to administer three doses of vaccine prior to departure when at all feasible," said Lt. Col. Cynthia Cogburn, command public health officer.

"The rationale behind providing at least three doses prior to deployment is to assure Airmen some level of immunity, though full immunity only occurs after completing the six-dose series," the colonel said.

The anthrax series includes the initial vaccination followed by a shot at two weeks, four weeks, six months, 12 months, and 18 months. Once Airmen complete the series they only need an annual booster to remain current.

Better Medical Screening Sought for Guard Troops Being Deployed

""They do not know why he died," Damon-Day said, adding that the Vaccine Healthcare Center at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington is still looking at the death as possibly vaccine-related."
"In the military, you are vaccinated, literally, to death," she said. "But when you are in the military, you have no right to say no."
The Associated Press

Better medical screening sought for Guard troops being deployed
By Glenn Adams, Associated Press Writer

AUGUSTA, Maine --Barbara Damon-Day, mother of a Maine Army National Guard captain who died of unexplained causes last June while serving in Bagram, Afghanistan, is now on a mission of her own.

Carrying a thick, maroon notebook filled with information about soldiers' health issues -- and pictures of her son Capt. Patrick Damon -- Damon-Day has been working the State House halls to line up support for legislation inspired by her son's mysterious death last June.

The bill would create a commission to improve health screening before Guard personnel are deployed. Damon-Day doesn't have much more lobbying to do in Augusta, where her bill has 155 co-sponsors in the 186-member Legislature, not to mention support of Gov. John Baldacci.

Now, Damon-Day is looking at the legislation as a national model. Her hopes may be well-founded, because she was able to make her case personally to President Bush while he visited the family's summer home in Kennebunkport last August.

The president, who had just met with Damon's widow, "was in tears," Damon-Day recalled. "He hugged me."

"I am uplifted by the support I've received on this," the 64-year-old Damon-Day said after chatting recently in the House chamber with a couple of lawmakers. "I have not met a single soul who was not supportive. Lobbyists have even helped me."

Damon-Day, of Newcastle, acknowledged that her legislation may have gotten a bump from the fact that her son was well-known and popular in the State House, where he had served as chief of staff for a former House speaker before moving on to the Public Utilities Commission as administrative director.

But she is confident that the law she envisions will help someone else who might not have drawn such an outpouring of attention as Damon, who was known for his ability to boil down complex issues, to work long hours and, as Baldacci said, as someone who "built a legacy of looking out for the people who couldn't look out for themselves."

Damon, 41, who lived in Falmouth and had two young children, had taken leave from the PUC when he was deployed to Afghanistan in January 2006 with the Maine Guard's 240th Engineer Group. While he didn't agree with the war, he believed he had to live up to his military commitment.

Damon collapsed on his bunk after a recreational run, his wife, Hildi Halley, said at the time. News reports said Damon, who had no known history of heart problems, died of an apparent heart attack.

"They do not know why he died," Damon-Day said, adding that the Vaccine Healthcare Center at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington is still looking at the death as possibly vaccine-related. While the military lists the death as "sudden unexpected," Damon-Day believes it was "prolonged and preventable."

She suspects it could have something to do with the extensive series of vaccinations Damon, like other soldiers, had to undergo before deployment. Damon-Day questioned whether, for example, one immunization could have an effect on another.

Damon-Day pointed to a picture of her son in her notebook showing "mumps-like swelling," but says his post-mortem examination didn't indicate a reason for puffiness.

"In the military, you are vaccinated, literally, to death," she said. "But when you are in the military, you have no right to say no."

Damon-Day said she started her legislative mission with a broad idea, and that's led to countless hours of research -- and much frustration when answers to her queries to the military weren't satisfactory. "I take one step, and that will lead to the next step, and that will lead to the next," she said.

The bill that was submitted by Baldacci seeks to create a nine-member commission that would review all preventative health treatment practices and protocols, vaccinations and other medications administered to members of the Maine National Guard.

Working with the state Department of Defense and Veterans' Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control, the commission would also propose recommendations for safer health-care practices and medications to the U.S. military.

In addition, the panel would help to assist families with members who have died or been wounded while in the National Guard. The commission must include at least one physician, a pharmacist, a veteran who has served in a war zone, a person with a military-related disability and a psychologist.

Maine CDC Director Dora Anne Mills said the legislation addresses changes that have occurred since the war on terror began. Previously, National Guard soldiers tended to be younger and usually served in domestic assignments. Now, soldiers are older and are serving overseas.
But their health protocols haven't kept pace with the changed demographics, said Mills, who believes the proposed commission will address "a major public health issue."

Others share her view.

"You've hit a home run with this one," Gary Lawyerson of the Maine Veterans Coordinating Committee told Damon-Day during a news conference Friday to announce the legislation.

"There's nothing that prevents Maine from having a higher standard than the federal military," said Damon-Day. "If this passes, I really believe we could get something changed in Washington, and it would not be something (President) Bush would veto."

May 4, 2007

U.S. woman gets genital rash from smallpox vaccinee

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A soldier newly vaccinated against smallpox infected a woman with the virus used to make the shot, causing a painful genital infection, U.S. health experts said on Thursday.

The case is one of several recent reports of sexual contact passing the usually harmless virus used to make smallpox vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It advised doctors to be on the lookout for the infection, which may look like a sexually transmitted disease.

The woman sought help at a public health clinic in Alaska after she developed severe itching, burning and tears in her vagina, the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.

Tests showed she was infected with vaccinia, the virus related to smallpox that is used to make the vaccine.

"After vaccinia was identified, investigators interviewed the woman more closely and learned that her new sex partner was a male U.S. military service member stationed at a local military base," the report read.

He had been vaccinated just three days before. The woman's infection cleared up months before investigators were able to confirm the cause.

Smallpox was eradicated in 1979, but military personnel and some health and emergency workers are vaccinated against the virus because of fears it could be used as a biological weapon.

The vaccine is crude and uses a live version of vaccinia. It can sometimes infect other people from the place where it is scratched into the arm.

Doctors are currently treating a toddler in Chicago who got one such infection, called eczema vaccinatum, from his soldier father.

The child became seriously ill, and in rare cases, people have been known to die from reactions to the vaccine.

May 3, 2007

The Fear Industry
The Fear Industry
By Alan Reynolds

George Tenet made patently ridiculous claims about WMD in Iraq, while serving as CIA director, and was eventually fired. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz made patently ridiculous claims about WMD in Iraq and was promoted to president of the World Bank. Both men are back in the news, with Wolfowitz in trouble for getting his girlfriend a tax-free $50,000 raise, and Tenet pushing a book describing himself as a scapegoat for the Iraq war.

If the former CIA director can't be held accountable for issuing an amateurish CIA report on WMD in Iraq, who can? White House officials may have wanted to invade Iraq anyway, as Tenet says, but the WMD hoax is what allowed them to do it.

Neither gentleman has been at all apologetic about their role in grossly exaggerating the likely risks of biological terrorism. Wolfowitz once claimed that Iraq had enough ricin to kill a million people, enough botulism to kill tens of millions and enough anthrax "to kill hundreds of millions."
Terrorists throughout the world have managed to kill only five people with anthrax, one with ricin and zero with botulism or aflatoxin (added to the list by former Secretary of State Colin Powell). This not because terrorists don't want to kill people, but because killing is much easier to accomplish with bombs, guns and crashing airplanes. Even today, however, bureaucrats and politicians still remain easily persuaded to assign a higher priority (and bigger budgets) to extremely unlikely risks than to mundane but palpable threats to health and safety.

I wrote a series of columns about the formidable obstacles to effectively delivering biological weapons, often quoting Wolfowitz or the CIA as examples of extreme gullibility or deception. I revealed many holes in the WMD fable before the Iraq invasion in, "The Economics of War," "Hazy WMD Definitions" and "The Duct Tape Economy." Those were followed by "Intelligence Without Brains" in June 2003, "The CIA and WMD" in June 2004, "WMD Doomsday Distractions" in April 2005 and "The Cost of War in Retrospect" in March 2006. Those columns can be found by sifting through archives under my bio at

The legacy of the 2002 WMD hoax lives on today in "Operation Bioshield" and other federal programs for doling out tax dollars to the multibillion-dollar fear industry.

The fear industry begins by hiring lobbyists and subsidizing academics who, in turn, persuade journalists to write scary stories about hypothetical weapons.

This science fiction game is not played for fun. It is played for money. It involves what Dale Rose of the University of California at San Francisco described as, "A cottage industry of risk analysts, disaster preparedness experts, psychologists, and others (who) have produced an array of theoretical work and conceptual grids around the issue of low probability-high consequence events."

In response to pressure from academic centers whose main mission was to hype bioterrorism (including the infamously erroneous "Dark Winter" scenario of mid-2001), President Bush warned of "the use of the smallpox virus as a weapon of terror" in December 2002. The administration then spent hundreds of millions of dollars on smallpox vaccine for first responders and the military, but both groups (notably, physicians) shunned the risky shots.
That was the most costly fiasco of its type since the swine flu vaccination program of 1976, which killed more people than swine flu did. Continuing the tradition, the U.S. government just contracted with Sanofi Pasteur to produce $100 million worth of avian flu vaccine -- which is of dubious effectiveness against avian flu acquired from birds, much less from any hypothetical pandemic strain that leaps to humans.

Whether or not these programs save even one life per $100 million spent is irrelevant. The point is the millions spent. After most of the federal loot from research grants and vaccine stockpiles has been received, the mission is accomplished and the fear industry moves on to greener pastures. The scare stories about Danger A disappear, to be replaced with new stories about Danger B, then C and so on.

The most reliable cash cow for the fear industry has been the five deaths from inhaling anthrax in October 2001. For those in the business of providing high-cost solutions to miniscule risks, this has been an endless bonanza. A recent news item provides a typical tip for fear investors: "Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville (Md.) said the U.S. government planned to order as many as 22.75 million doses of its anthrax vaccine." The government has spent at least $877 million on anthrax vaccine so far, or $175.4 million per death from anthrax. Sensing that sum may be pressing the limits, the fear industry is busily assembling new threats to scare up some more cash.

The Health and Human Services Department reportedly plans to spend over $100 million more on additional anthrax and smallpox vaccines. And it plans to spend more than $100 million to deal with radiation poisoning -- which was not even on this luxury list until former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated. Compared with anthrax vaccine, $100 million per death sounds cheap, even if he wasn't an American. But they did say "more than" $100 million, didn't they?

The plan also "listed as a near-term priority the development of antibiotics for threats such as the plague or tularemia." Sure, why not? There was one unconfirmed case of plague in Texas in 1956. And in the summer of 2000, an outbreak of tularemia from lawn mowing in Martha's Vineyard resulted in one fatality.

Whenever you hear the word "bioterrorism" in connection with large sums of federal money, just remember "WMD." Bioterrorism is just a different word for the same old WMD story being retold in purely hypothetical terms, without even the pretense that somebody actually has such agents or that anyone really knows how to kill more than five people with them.

If the United States continues to waste too much attention and money on these extreme long shots, that just increases the risk of being hit again by the real weapons that real terrorists actually use.